crustaceans, fishes, molluscs
to 2.5 feet (76 cm)
sculpins; Phylum: Chordata; Family Cottidae
southeast Alaska to Baja California
Cabezon means "large head" in Spanish, and this sculpin gulps some good-sized prey. Cabezon can swallow small, whole abalones, regurgitating the inedible shells.
A cabezon's life cycle takes it offshore and back. Adults spawn on rocky outcrops, and males guard the eggs until they hatch. The larval young drift out to sea, then develop into small, silvery fish that often hide under mats of drifting kelp. As they grow older, the fish settle into tide pools, then move to reefs and kelp forests.
These fish are easily caught while the males are sitting on their nests. Cabezon make up a large component of the shallow water rockfish fishery—a poorly regulated fishery that can easily overfish this species.
The eggs of cabezon are poisonous to humans and many other mammals and birds.
This is the largest member of the sculpin family in the Monterey Bay area.