- California sheephead
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 ]
phylum = Chordata
genus = "
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, Californiato the Gulf of California, Mexico.FishBase species | genus = Semicossyphus | species = pulcher | month = February | year = 2006]
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]
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.
Once abundant in California,
overfishinghas 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".
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