Sarcastic Fringehead

Species: Neoclinus blanchardi; from the Greek words neos (young) and clin (recline), and Blanchard in reference to its discoverer.

Alternate Names: Fringehead.

Identification: Typical blenny-shape, but with a huge head and extremely large mouth. Their coloring is usually brown tinged with red and there are two large spots in the dorsal fin.

Size: To 12 inches. Most caught from piers are 6-8 inches long.

Range: From Cedros Island, Baja California to San Francisco.

Habitat: Sarcastic fringehead are found in bays and along the open coast on sand or hard mud. They will often take up residence in whatever empty shells or bottles may be in the area.

Piers: Never common, but most piers (especially bay piers) see a few taken each year. Best bets: Embarcadero "Marina" Park Pier, Shelter Island Pier, Oceanside Harbor Pier and Dana Point Harbor Pier.

Bait and Tackle: : Taken incidentally when using small hooks and fishing on the bottom for perch or turbot.

Food Value: Mean little critters that are best left alone. I guess the largest have some meat on them so probably they would be o.k. fried, but I've never heard of anyone eating them.

Comments: Not as common as bay blenny or rockpool blenny but many are taken every year. The onespot fringehead, a slightly smaller species, is taken in much of the same area (although they range to Bodega Bay and are very common at Fort Baker and the Sausalito Pier); anglers catch both species. Onespot fringehead inhabit fairly barren bottoms of bays and shallow coastline waters where they take up residence in empty bottles, cans, tires, shoes or whatever. It is reported that no "homeless" fringehead were found in the vicinity of piers in San Diego Bay. Oftentimes the fringehead sit at rest with just the heads protruding from their home.