Pacific Tomcod

Cods: Family Gadidae Species: Microgadus proximus (Girard, 1854); from the Greek words micros (small) and gadus (codfish), and the Latin word proximus (next). Alternate Names: Tomcod, piciata and wachna. Identification: Typical cod-like shape with three dorsal fins and two anal fins. Tomcod have a short…

Pacific Butterfish

Species: Peprilus simillimus (Ayres, 1860); from the Greek word pepricos (one of Hesychian’s unknown fish) and the Latin word simillimus (very similar, in reference to a similar Atlantic butterfish). Alternate Names: Pompano, California pompano, Pacific pompano and dollarfish. Called palometa plateada in Mexico. Identification: A…

Redtail Surfperch

Surfperches/Seaperches: Family Embiotocidae Species: Amphistichus rhodoterus (Agassiz, 1854); from the Greek words amphi (double), stoichus (series, referring to the two rows of teeth in each jaw), and rhodoterus (rosy). Family Embiotocidae, subfamily Amphistichinae. Alternate Names: Redtail perch, rosy surf fish and porgy (or porgie). Identification:…

Sarcastic Fringehead

Kelpfishes and Fringeheads: Family Clinidae Species: Neoclinus blanchardi (Girard, 1858); from the Greek words neos (young) and clin (recline), and Blanchard (in reference to its discoverer). Alternate Names: Twospot fringehead or fringehead. Called tubícola chusco or blenia in Mexico. Identification: Typical slender blenny-shape but with…

California Lizardfish

Lizardfishes: Family Synodontidae Species: Synodus lucioceps (Ayres, 1855); from the Greek word synodus (the ancient name of a fish in which the teeth meet), and the Latin word lucioceps (pike head). Alternate Names: Gar, barracuda, candlefish. Called lagarto lucio or chile lucio in Mexico. Identification:…

Grass Rockfish

Scorpionfishes and Rockfishes: Family Scorpaenidae Species: Sebastes rastrelliger (Jordan & Gilbert, 1880); from the Greek words sebastes (magnificent) and rastrelliger (a rake, in reference to the stubby gill rakers). Alternate Names: Often called a variation of bass—grass bass, rock bass, pepper bass, sugar bass, and…

Kelp Bass

Sea Basses: Family Serranidae Species: Paralabrax clathratus (Girard, 1854); from the Greek words para (near) and labrax (a European bass), and the Latin clathratus (latticed, referring to the coloring on the back). Kelp bass caught by Angel Hernandez at the Crystal Pier in San Diego…

White Sturgeon

Sturgeons: Family Acipenseridae Species: Acipenser transmontanus (Richardson, 1836); from the Latin words Acipenser (bony cartilage), trans (across), and montes (mountains). Alternate Names: Pacific sturgeon, Sacramento sturgeon, Oregon sturgeon and Columbia sturgeon. Called esturión blanco in Mexico. Identification: White sturgeon have a long, streamlined body with…

California Barracuda

Barracudas: Family Sphyraenidae Species: Sphyraena argentea (Girard, 1854); from the Greek word sphyraena (an ancient name meaning hammer fish) and the Latin word argenteum (silvery). Alternate Names: Pacific barracuda, cuda, barry, gar, fire hose, stove pipe, skinny, scooter, scoot, snake, slime, slimestick, pencil (small fish),…

Bat Ray

Eagle Rays: Family Myliobatididae Species: Myliobatis californica (Gill, 1865); from the Greek words myl (a tooth or molar), io (an arrow or poison), batis (a skate or ray) and the Latin word Californica (referring to location). Apparently called aetobatus californica at one time in California:…