Oligocottus maculosus Girard, 1856, Neah Bay, Washington, United States.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Tidepool johnny.
Typical sculpin body form, with a small, elongate body, to 2 in (5.1 cm), and a relatively large head. Tidepool sculpins have varying numbers and sizes of cirri on their body, singly or in pairs, especially in the head region. They have one forked cheek spine. Color is banded light and dark gray, sometimes with red or green shades. Newly settled young have red fin rays on the tail.
Coastal waters from the Los Angeles Bight to the Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk.
Many scientific studies of tidepool sculpins living in tidepools have led to the opinion that this species is an obligate dweller of tidepools. Ironically, spawning is much more dense in protected areas without tidepools than on exposed headlands where pools are formed. Furthermore, tidepool sculpins are abundant in inlets where no tidepools occur, and they strand under rocks during low tides in areas without tidepools. Thus, the tidepool sculpin is a facultative inhabitant of tidepools where they occur, but does not require them to make a living.
When it occurs in tidepools, the tidepool sculpin exhibits homing
when displaced from a home pool. The sense of smell appears to assist in home site recognition.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Small crustaceans like amphipods or harpacticoid copepods.
Although it is not known whether this species has internal gametic association, the female mates and then deposits egg clusters in spaces between barnacles or mussels. The eggs are either emerald green, dark green, or maroon. Maroon eggs are laid on shores exposed to wave action, but the same females, removed from exposed shores, in captivity lay green eggs the next season. On small stretches of shore that either gradate or abruptly shift from wave exposure to protection from waves, the proportion of maroon to emerald eggs similarly gradates or shifts abruptly. The egg pigment may reflect some physiological response of the female to the gas saturation of the seawater, but the subject remains a mystery, as does the polymorphism for egg color in many other sculpin species.
Not threatened. This is the most abundant and commonly occurring shoreline fish in many parts of the Pacific Northwest. It would probably be one of the last species to disappear in the face of environmental degradation.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
The tidepool sculpin is the most easily observed fish in many tidepools, and it has been of great interest to students of intertidal biology.
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