Size3 feet (91 cm)
DietSea urchins, crabs, lobsters and other hard-shelled prey
RangeEastern Pacific from about Monterey Bay and the Gulf of California
HabitatRocky bottoms, particularly kelp forests
- Adult reaches maximum length of about 3 feet (91 cm).
- Juvenile is bright royal orange in color with prominent blue dots at the fins and the base of the tail. The lower jaw is white and most individuals have a while line running from the mouth to the caudal fin.
- As adults, males and females are sexually dimorphic.
- Females are smaller and sleeker than males, solid red-orange above and white ventrally. Lower jaw is bright white.
- Males are more robust, with significant bulging foreheads. In coloration, they are black at the head and tail, with an orange midsection. Lower jaw is bright white.
- Consumes primarily sea urchins, crabs, lobsters and other hard-shelled prey.
- Occurs in the Eastern Pacific from about Monterey Bay and the Gulf of California.
- Found over rocky bottoms, particularly kelp forests, at depths ranging to 180 feet (0-55 m), though most commonly 10-100 feet (~3-30 m).
- During mating season (between July and September) male sheephead become territorial and defend their spawning territory.Dominant males lead the females in a circular pattern as they broadcast sperm and eggs, respectively.
- The females spawn between 36,000 and 296,000 eggs, which hatch into larvae.
- Spawning occurs most commonly during the summer months.
- “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List.
- Sequential hermaphrodite (protogynous): each individual starts life as a female and then changes to male.
- California sheephead has large, prominent teeth and can bite if handled improperly.
- Common predators include harbor seals, California sea lions and various sea bird species.