Monkeyface Eel

Pricklebacks: Family Stichaeidae Species: Cebidichthys violaceus (Girard, 1854); from the Greek cebidichthys (two words meaning Sapajou—a kind of monkey, and fish); and the Latin word violaceus (meaning violet). Alternate Names: Monkeyface prickleback, blenny eel, monkeyface blenny. Called abrojo cara de mono in Mexico. Identification: Typical…

Salema

Grunts: Family Haemulidae Species: Xenistius californiensis (Steindachner, 1876); from xenitius (strange sail, in allusion to the dorsal fin) and californiensis (in reference to California as a geographic area). Alternate Names: Bass, big eye, big eye bass, striped bass and lima perch. In Mexico called salema,…

California Needlefish

Needlefishes: Family Belonidae Species: Strongylura exilis (Girard, 1854); from strongylura (meaning round tail) and exilis (meaning slender). Alternate Names: Garfish, pike needlefish, billfish. Called agujón bravo de California or agujón Californiano in Mexico. Identification: Jaws form a long, pointed needle-like beak with many sharp teeth;…

Finescale Triggerfish

Triggerfishes and Filefishes: Family Balistodae Species: Balistes polylepis (Steindachner, 1876); Balistes comes from the Latin word ballista (a device that shoots arrows—referring to the trigger-like spine) and the Greek word polylepis (many scales) Alternate Name: Triggerfish. In Mexico called cochi, puerco coche, cochito or pez…

Pacific Herring

Herring: Family Clupeidae Species: Clupea harengus pallasi (Valenciennes, 1847); from the Latin word clupea (herring), the Low Latin word harengus, which probably comes from old High German, possibly associated with (das) herr, (army or multitude, in reference to the formation of large schools), and pallasi,…

Yellow Snake Eel

Snake Eels and Worm Eels: Family Ophichthidae Species: Ophichthus zophochir (Jordan & Gilbert, 1882); Ophichthus, from two Greek words meaning serpent and fish, and the Greek zophochir, for darkness and hand (dark pectoral fins). Alternate Names: Eww, a snake! In Mexico called Tieso Amarillo; in…

Basketweave Cusk-Eel

Cusk-Eel from the Newport Pier Cusk-Eels: Family Ophidiidae Species: Ophidion scrippsae (Hubbs, 1916); from the words otophidium (referring to the large sacklike inner ear) and scrippsi (in honor of Ellen Browning Scripps who helped establish the Scripps Institution of Oceanography). Alternate Names: Eel or California…

Specklefin Midshipman

Toadfishes: Family Batrachoididae Species: Porichthys myriaster (Hubbs & Schultz, 1939); from the Greek words porus (a passage), ichthys (fish), myri (many), and aster (stars—in reference to the dots on the head and body). Alternate Names: Toadfish, speckled midshipman, bullhead, singing fish. Called sapo aleta manchada…

Striped Mullet

Mullets: Family Mugilidae Species: Mugil cephalus (Linnaeus, 1758); from mugal (meaning to suck, in reference to their feeding behavior) and cephalus (pertaining to their distinctive head Alternate Names: Mullet or grey mullet. Called lisa or lisa rayada in Mexico. Identification: Torpedo-shaped with 2 widely spaced…

Pacific Sardine

Herring: Family Clupeidae Species: Sardinops sagax (Jenyns, 1842); from the Latin word sardine (sardina), the Greek word ops (like), and the Latin word sagux (of quick perception, acute or alert). Alternate Names: Pilchard, ‘dines, dinies (small sardines) and dinos, firecrackers (small sardines), rhinos or trout…