Sailfin Sculpin    Nautichthys oculofasciatus



Such a big scientific name for such a small fish!  However this 3/4 inch fellow is really a baby, the adult can reach 8 inches.  It swam to the lights at the Boston Harbor Marine, like a moth to a flame, during it's wonderings looking for food.   


The Sailfin Sculpin is easily identified because of the tall, first dorsal fin and the black stripe through the eye. The large dorsal fin is used for slow swimming while the whole body and tail fin are used in an escape response.  It can also move by undulations of the second dorsal fin coupled with flaps of its pectoral fin to hop forward.  Unlike the adult, the juvenile boasts huge pectoral fins which may act to slow its sinking when it stops swimming.  


The Sailfin Sculpin ranges from southern California along the pacific rim possibly as far as northern Japan. It is commonly found moving about at night while hiding during daylight hours.  It prefers hiding among rocks and seaweed from the shallow subtidal to around a minus 360 ft.


It feeds on small invertebrates. Divers have seen it wave it's tall dorsal fin in rhythm with moving vegetation helping conceal it from predators and prey.  Eggs are laid in mussel beds or rocky areas in winter.  Young appear in the water column in spring where they stay till they settle to the bottom.