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California Scorpionfish

Scientific Name: Scorpaena guttata

Distribution: Central California to the Gulf of California

Habitat: Found in tidepools (rarely) to 600 ft (183 m) deep. Most commonly found from 33-279 ft (10-85 m). Known to inhabit rocky and soft seafloor habitats.

Behavior: California scorpionfish are known to form spawning aggregations and spawn from April to September. On the Palos Verdes Superfund site (PV Shelf), California scorpionfish were found to be largely stationary with area uses being comparable or smaller than barred sand bass. These fish were found to migrate to a spawning aggregation 12.4 miles (20 km) away and then return to the PV Shelf. California scorpionfish are nocturnal foragers which ambush their prey and consume crustaceans, cephalopods, and fishes. The dorsal, anal, and pelvic fins of these fish are venomous.

Why it is important: California scorpionfish are an important part of the commercial and recreational fishery in southern California. Within southern California, there has been a decrease the number of rockfish species causing an increase in California scorpionfish catch. The scorpionfish population in California was last assessed in 2005 by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife where a healthy stock was reported and an increase in harvest limit was instated. California scorpionfish are also a species listed under OEHHA’s consumption advisory guidelines for southern California due to contamination.

Sources: Fishbase, CDFW 2001 (Status Report), Love 2011, Lowe 2013 (EPA Fish Tracking Report)

Quick Facts

Scientific Name: Scorpaena guttata

Conservation Status (IUCN): Data deficient

Lifespan: Max Females 21 years; Males 15 years

Age at Maturity: All mature by 4 years old

Maximum Weight: 4.4 lbs (2 kg)

Speed: Max at least 0.67 mph (0.3 m/sec)

Maximum Length: 19 inches (47 cm)

Habitat: Temperate & subtropical regions

Related Projects & Blogs

California Scorpionfish - Palos Verdes Shelf, CA