California sheephead

California sheephead

Taxobox
name = California sheephead


image_width = 250px
status = VU | status_system = IUCN3.1
trend = down
status_ref = [IUCN2006|assessors=Cornish & Dormeier|year=2005|id=61340|title=Semicossyphus pulcher|downloaded=11 May 2006 Database entry includes a lengthy justification of why this species is vulnerable ]
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Actinopterygii
ordo = Perciformes
familia = Labridae
genus = "Semicossyphus"
species = "S. pulcher"
binomial = "Semicossyphus pulcher"
binomial_authority = (Ayres, 1854)

The California sheephead ("Semicossyphus pulcher") is a fish native to the eastern Pacific Ocean. Its range is from Monterey Bay, California to the Gulf of California, Mexico.FishBase species | genus = Semicossyphus | species = pulcher | month = February | year = 2006]

Description

The sheephead can reach a size of 91 cm and a weight of 16 kg. The male is black with a white jaw and a broad red band spanning the body transversally. The female is pink. The juvenile form is bright red with a white stripe spanning the body. All sheepheads are born as females and eventually change to males. The age of the transition depends on environmental factors such as food supply. [cite web | url = http://www.mbayaq.org/efc/living_species/default.asp?hOri=1&inhab=215 | publisher = Monterey Bay Aquarium: online field guide | title = California sheephead | accessdate = 3 April | accessyear = 2006]

Biology

The sheephead inhabits kelp forests and rocky reefs, where it feeds on sea urchins, mollusks, lobsters, and crabs. Spawning occurs during the summer and results in pelagic larvae.

Fishery

Once abundant in California, overfishing has largely reduced the Sheephead population. Its lack of timidity around divers has made the species especially vulnerable to spearfishing. Additionally, the Sheephead has a low resilience to population changes, due to its long doubling time of 4.5-14 years.

In Spanish, the fish is marketed under its common name "vieja" (old lady), or "vieja de California".

References

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