|California's Scorpionfish (Sculpin)|
is a large state, the 3rd largest in the U.S.A., and depending on where
you go, can range broadly in habitat type and, also, climate. For this
reason, California plays host to a huge variety of fish. Fishes are
aquatic vertebrates that have fins, gills and scales. Gills are the part
of the respiratory system that provide surface area for exchanging
oxygen and carbon dioxide under water.
California fish species reside in freshwater and coastal/marine waters. Freshwater fish are fishes that live at least part, if not all, of their lives in bodies of fresh water with a salinity of less than .05%. Forty-one percent of all known fish species are found in freshwater.
The California scorpionfish is commonly called sculpin although also called scorpion fish and little poker. A type of rockfish sculpin are stocky and slightly compressed. The head and mouth are large, as are the pectoral fins. The color is red to brown, with dark blotches and spotting over the body and fins.
The sculpin occurs between Uncle Sam Bank, Baja California, and Santa Cruz, California, with an isolated population in the Gulf of California. They are caught over hard, rocky bottoms at depths ranging from just below the surface to 600 feet. Some may occasionally be taken over sand or mud bottoms..
Sculpin fish are any of the numerous, usually small fish of the family Cottidae (order Scorpaeniformes), found in both salt water and fresh water, principally in northern regions of the world. Sculpins are elongated, tapered fish, usually with wide, heavy heads. The gill covers have one or more spines, the pectoral fins are large and fanlike, and the skin is either naked or provided with small spines.The diet of the sculpin includes crab, squid, octopus, fishes and shrimp.
Sculpin first spawn when they are 3 or 4 years, and they may live 15 years or longer. Spawning takes place from April through August, and probably occurs at night. The eggs are embedded in the gelatinous walls of hollow, pear shaped egg-balloons. The paired egg-balloons, each 5 to 10 inches long are joined at their small ends. The walls of these "balloons" are about 0.1 inch thick, transparent or greenish in color, and contain a single layer of eggs. Each egg is about 0.05 inch in diameter. The "balloons" are released at the bottom of the sea and rise rapidly to the surface. The eggs hatch within 5 days.
California scorpionfish, known locally as sculpin, are an important part of the commercial and sport fishery in southern California, especially within the Los Angeles port complex. In the recreational fishery, they are taken primarily aboard commercial passenger fishing vessels
Although scorpionfish are most common around rocky areas and reef areas, they can be caught at almost every oceanfront pier in Southern California. Best piers are Balboa Pier, Newport Pier, Hermosa Beach Pier, the Redondo Harbor Sportfishing Pier, Green Pleasure Pier in Avalon, and the Cabrillo Pier.
The scorpionfish are venomous and their sting hurts. These fish are delicious to eat and can be fun to catch, but handle with extreme care. California scorpionfish are the most venomous member of the family found in California.
Its dorsal, pelvic and anal fin spines are associated with venom glands and are capable of causing an extremely painful wound. Penetration of the skin by any of these spines may be serious. If handled in a careless manner and a puncture wound occurs, there will usually be intense pain and perhaps swelling, which should subside after a few hours.
Many treatments have been used for sculpin stings, but immersion of the affected part in very hot water seems to be the most effective. Multiple punctures can be quite serious, producing shock, respiratory distress or abnormal heart action and may require hospitalization of the victim.
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