Marine Management News Fish Identification Quiz
January 2012

January 2012 MMN Fish Quiz Photo; CDFW photo by Ken Oda

While many fish lay eggs that develop over time and hatch into tiny, free-drifting larvae, this unique fish gives birth to highly developed young-in fact, they look like tiny replicas of their parents-that enter the world ready to swim. Females give birth to an average of 33 young, but this can vary from as few as four to as many as 113. Most enter the world during the spring and summer months. Newborn fish average 2 1/2 inches long at birth, and reach maturity at about 6 1/2 inches long, as 1 to 2 years olds.

This fish eats mostly sand crabs and other small crabs and crustaceans, as well as bean clams.

This species may be found from Bodega Bay (Sonoma County) to central Baja California, Mexico, from the surface to a depth of around 240 feet. They are usually found in the surf zone along sandy beaches where they seem to congregate in depressions on the bottom. Tagging studies indicate this species tends to stay put, usually traveling less than 2 miles, although movement of up to 31 miles has been recorded.

These fish are relatively short-lived. The oldest males reach about 6 years old and 12 inches long. Females can reach about 9 years old and up to 17 inches long. The state record for this species was a 4 lb., 2 oz. fish caught in 1996 off Southern California.

This species is very popular with sport anglers, who appreciate their readiness to take bait and plastic worms on hook and line. Currently, recreational anglers catch far more of this species than commercial fishermen. The estimated recreational catch during the latter half of the 20th century averaged 739,000 lb. per year, whereas the commercial catch averaged 127,000 lb. per year.

Various life-history traits of this species make it susceptible to overfishing and vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation in marine nearshore areas and estuaries, which it uses as nurseries. Because they produce comparatively few young and are relatively short-lived, impacts to the nearshore environment could make it difficult for this fish to rebound if population numbers fall to low levels.

This fish is a barred surfperch, Amphistichus argenteus. The daily bag and possession limit for barred surfperch outside of San Francisco and San Pablo bays is 10 fish, per CCR Title 14, Section 28.59(c)(1).