SPOTTED SCORPIONFISH
Scorpaena guttata

Habitat: Typically found in cracks and crevices of rocky reefs, rubble fields, sand and mud bottoms.

Average adult size: Adults can grow to be 17 inches long.

Natural history: A classic ambush predator, the scorpionfish blends in with its surroundings. It lies concealed on the bottom, waiting for an unsuspecting fish to pass close by. California scorpionfish migrate into deep water to spawn from June to August. Spawning occurs in the same place each year, in water 120 to 360 feet deep. In August, many of the fish move back into shallow water. Tagged fish have been found to migrate more than 25 miles. Females produce eggs in Jello-like structures that float near the surface. Adults feed on small fishes, octopuses, shrimps and crabs. The sharp spines on the scorpionfish's back are quite poisonous. The most effective way to stop pain inflicted by these spines is to soak the wound in hot water. The poison is still potent even if the fish is dead or frozen. California scorpionfish can live to be more than 20 years old.

Range: From Gulf of California north to Santa Cruz, California.


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