Grunt Sculpin

Rhamphocottus richardsonii

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Curiously shaped and colored, Grunt Sculpins are an interesting and amusing fish to observe. They have stout bodies and large heads. Their pectoral fins are broad with the lower rays separated into almost finger-like arrangements. Grunt Sculpins are creamy yellow on the back barred with dark brown streaks passing down the sides of their body. They have a narrow, rounded snout with thick lips and small teeth. There are several stout, sharp spines on their heads and a movable flap-like cirrus (flexible piece of skin) on the upper lip of large individuals, which is not always displayed.

This carnivore feeds on small crustaceans and other organisms, poking its long, pointed snout into crevices and between barnacles. Young Grunt Sculpins eat copepods, amphipods, decapods, barnacle and fish larvae. Their common name comes from the half grunting, half-hissing sound they make when removed from the water.

Range and Habitat

Grunt Sculpins are common from Alaska to Santa Monica Bay, California. They live in tide pools, rocky areas and sometimes even on sandy bottoms from the intertidal to 540 feet (165 m).

Conservation Status