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California Sheephead Semicossyphus pulcher


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California Sheepshead
credit: Aquaimages/CCSA

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Family: Labridae, Wrasses view all from this family

Description The California sheephead (Semicossyphus pulcher) is a wrasse native to the eastern Pacific Ocean. Its range is from Monterey Bay, California to the Gulf of California, Mexico.

The sheephead can reach a size of 91 cm and a weight of 16 kg. The male is black with a white jaw and a broad red band spanning the body sometimes. The female is pink. The juvenile form is bright red with a white stripe spanning the body and a black spot on its tail. All sheepheads are born as females and eventually change to males at 18 inches. The age of the transition depends on environmental factors such as food supply.

The sheephead lives in kelp forests and rocky reefs, where it feeds on sea urchins, mollusks, lobsters, and crabs. Giving birth results in planktonic larva.

Dimensions Up to 3' (91 cm).

Habitat Estuaries, tidal flats & salt marshes, Ocean or bay shallows.

Range California.