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California Sheephead - Semicossyphus pulcher
Photo by CINMS

California sheephead grow to 1m (3 feet). Most will change sex from female to male by age 8. Extreme juveniles are bright orange or red with a light mid-body stripe and black spots on each fin. Females are a rosy pink with a white chin, while mature males have a white chin, black head and tail, with a pink to red midsection. California sheephead are an important predator of sea urchins.

California Sheephead
(Semicossyphus pulcher)

Monterey Bay to Isla Guadalupe in Mexico

Rocky reef and kelp beds

Urchins, crabs, barnacles, clams, mussels, snails, octopi and worms


The status of this species is representative of the populations within the waters of this Sanctuary only, not global populations.

Quick Fact
California sheephead remains are commonly found in the middens of Native Americans, showing that Native Americans frequently utilized them for food.

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