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Bottomfish Identification: Sculpins

Scorpaenichthys marmoratus

Commonly caught by recreational harvesters off the outer Washington coast and in Puget Sound.

Description: The body of a cabezon is olive green, brown, reddish or grey on the dorsal side with a white or greenish belly.  They have two fins on the back and 5 soft rays on the pelvic fins.  They lack scales and have a fleshy skin flap between their nostrils. The upper preopercular spine is stout and slightly curved.  Cabezon have small teeth and a large, branched cirrus above each eye.  Cabezon is the largest of the sculpin species found in Washington waters.

Maximum Size: To 99 cm (38.9 in) in length, and 6.8 kg (15 lbs) in weight.

Maximum Age: At least 14 years old.

Range/Habitat: They range from Sitka, Alaska, to central Baja, California. They are found from the intertidal to 76 m (250 ft) in depth.  They are demersal, solitary, and usually associated with reefs, boulders, kelp beds, or eelgrass.

Fun Fish Fact:  Cabezon eggs are toxic.


  • Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald and H. Hammann, 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 336 p.
  • Grebel, J. and G. Cailliet, 2010. Age, growth, and maturity of cabezon, Scorpaenichthys marmoratus in California. California Fish and Game 96(1): 36-52 p.

Photos: V. Okimura and S. Axtell