The Cabezon fish, Scorpaenichthys marmoratus, is a member of the Cabezon or Scorpaenichthyidae Family and is called in Mexico cabezon (big head) (large head). The Cabezon is the only member of the Scorpaenichthys family and the only species found in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico.
The Cabezon has a huge bulbous head and a sturdy body. Dimorphic, the males, have reddish-brown earth tone marbles while the females have greenish-brown marbles. Their color is lighter ventrally, and they may change hues to fit with their environments. Females are more significant than men. They have a disproportionately huge head and a wide broad mouth equipped with many tiny teeth. They have a strong spine in front of their eyes, and on the tip of their nose is a short cirrus. Above each eye, juveniles have a pair of branching cirri, which vanish as they get older. Their anal fin has 11 to 14 rays; their caudal fin is rounded, and their dorsal fin is continuous, with the initial half having 8 to 12 spines and the second portion being taller and having 15 to 18 rays. They have 16 to 22-gill rakers. They have no scales at all.
The Cabezon is found in shallow seas in rocky locations associated with reefs, rocks, kelp beds, and eelgrass at depths up to 232 m (760 ft) (760 feet). They attain a maximum of 99 cm (3 feet 2 inches) in length and 11 kg (25 pounds) in weight. As of October 15, 2020, the International Game Fish Association world record remained at 10.4 kg (23 lbs 0 oz), with the fish captured in coastal waters off the State of Washington in August 1990. They spend most of their time as solitary demersal individuals lying on the bottom and are colored to blend with their environments. Fish, mollusks, and crustaceans are all staple fish items. They spawn on coastal rock outcrops, with each female producing between 50,000 and 150,000 purple to blue-green, pink, or white eggs that attach themselves to rocky structures and are then guarded by males for four to six weeks until they hatch. The larvae are pelagic and grow into silvery fish that hide among ocean debris and later return and settle in tidal pools before going to reefs and kelp forests. They have a lifespan of nineteen years.
Where does Cabezon fish live?
The Cabezon is a resident of Mexican waters of the Pacific but has a restricted range being found from Punta Abreojos, Baja California Sur, northward along the central and northwest coastlines of Baja.
Most fish captured from piers are under two feet long and weigh up to 25 pounds and 39 inches. The Cabezon is the most prominent member of the cottid (sculpin) family. In 1958, a fish near Los Angeles weighed 23 lb 4 oz, setting a new state record for California anglers. The diving record is for an 18 Lbs 6 oz fish caught off Pedotti Ranch in Sonoma County in 1984.
Cabezon fish’s look
The Cabezon is similar in appearance to the majority of Scorpionfish but lacks head spines. Its smooth head and peculiar marbled mottling make it simple to recognize.
From a conservation standpoint, the Cabezon has not been appropriately assessed. Although they are an essential component of the shallow water habitat, they are poorly managed and prone to overfishing. They are a favorite of pier fishermen, and when spawning, the males become sitting ducks for recreational anglers as they perch on their eggs. During the spawning season, spearfishermen also go for them. The Cabezon is captured and sold by a commercial fisherman on a limited basis. Although they are prized as delectable eating fish, their roe is poisonous to humans. The Cabezon was a significant component of the diet of Native Americans.
Also Read: Can fish drown? How They Breathe.