About This Fish

California Sheepshead

The California sheep head (Semicossyphus pulcher) is a perch like ray finned fish. It belongs to Family Labridae under Order Perciformes of Class Actinopterygii. It is found in Monterey Bay of California, USA to Guadalupe Island and Gulf of California. The California Sheep head prefers kelp beds and it is a distinctly colored resident of the reefs.

All sheep heads are born as females and eventually change to males at roughly 45 centimeters in length. Adult male sheephead have a black head and tail with white jaw while the female is uniformly pink or reddish in color. The male also has a prominent, fleshy bump on the forehead. Juvenile sheep head are orange but at least two white horizontal stripes are present on the side and several black spots are also seen in the dorsal and anal fins. The California sheep head feeds principally on sea urchins, mollusks, lobsters, and crabs while juveniles feed on plankton. The California sheep head is preyed upon by seals, sea lions, and giant sea bass. Female reaches sexual maturity at the age of 3 to 6 years. Male sheep head can live up to 50 years and can achieve a length and weight of 90 cm and 16 kg respectively while female can live up to 30 years. It spawns during the period between July and September and the eggs are pelagic.

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Location Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
South Carolina