Spotted Kelpfish

Kelpfishes and Fringeheads: Family Clinidae Species: Gibbonsia elegans (Cooper, 1864); from Gibbonsai (William P. Gibbons, an early naturalist from Alameda), and the Latin word elegans (elegant or handsome). Alternate Names: Called Sargacero or Sargacero manchado in Mexico. Identification: Typical kelpfish shape—pointed snout, tiny mouth, rounded…

Buffalo Sculpin

Sculpins: Family Cottidae Species: Enophrys bison (Girard, 1854); from the Greek words en (on), ephrys (eyebrow), and bison (referring to the two bison-like horns or spines on the head). Alternate Names: Often called bullhead and mistaken for cabezon. Called büffelgroppe in Germany, glowacz bizonik in…

Jack Mackerel

Jacks, Amberjacks, and Pompanos: Family Carangidae Species: Trachurus symmetricus (Ayres, 1855); from the Greek words trachus (rough) and oura (tail), and the Latin word symmetria (symmetrical or regularly shaped). A member of the jack family Carangidae. Alternate Names: Spanish mackerel, Spaniard, California horse mackerel, mackerel jack,…

Big Skate

Skates: Family Rajidae Species: Raja binoculta (Grard, 1855); from the Latin words raja (skate), bi (two), and oculata (eyed, referring to the markings on top of the skate). Alternate Names: Skate, barndoor skate, and Pacific great skate. Called raya gigante or raya bruja gigante in…

Thornback Ray

Thornbacks: Family Platyrhinidae Species: Platyrhinoidis triseriata (Jordan & Gilbert, 1880); from the Greek words platys (flat and broad), rhin (shark with a rough skin), oid (like) and is (similar), and the Latin words tri (three) and seriat (rows, in reference to the three rows of…

Spiny Dogfish

Dogfish Sharks: Family Squalidae Species: Squalus acanthias (Linnaeus, 1758); from the Latin word squalus (shark) and the Greek word akanthias (spines), or Squalus suckleyi; from the Latin word squalus (shark) and suckleyi honoring George Suckley (1830-1869), a naturalist and Civil War surgeon. Pick A or…

Round Stingray

Stingrays: Family Dasyatididae Species: Urobatis halleri (Cooper, 1863); Urobatis comes from two Greek words meaning tail and ray; halleri is from George Haller (1852-1889). Alternate Names: Stingray, stingaree or stinger. Called raya de espina, raya redonda común, or raya redonda de aguijón in Mexico. Called…

Soupfin Shark

Smoothhounds: Family Triakididae Species: Galeorhinus zyopterus (Linnaeus, 1758); from the Greek words galeos (a kind of shark), rhinos (nose or snout), zuon, (animal) and pteron (fin-large pectoral fin). Alternate Names: Tope, oil shark, vitamin shark, snapper shark. Called tiburón aceitoso in Mexico. Identification: They have…

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 Electric Ray

Electric Rays: Family Torpedinidae Species: Torpedo californica; (Ayres, 1855); from the Greek word torpedo (for numbness—from the electric shock) and californica (for California, where the first specimens were taken). Alternate Names: Torpedo ray, numbfish, crampfish or torpedo. Called torpedo del Pacifico or torpedo in Mexico.…