Cabezon, Scorpaenichthys marmoratus

About this species

Cabezon fish can camouflage itself to match its surroundings (Photo: Lovell and Libby Langstroth © California Academy of Sciences)

Cabezon are fished for sport in California, but their eggs are poisonous to humans.

Cottidae, a large family of bottom-dwelling sculpin fish

Southern Alaska to central Baja California


The Cabezon is a camouflaged fish that varies in color. It is the largest species in its family and can reach a meter in length and weigh over 25 pounds. As the genus name implies (Scorpae-), the Cabezon resembles a scorpion fish, with spines on both dorsal fins and fan like pectoral fins. Cabezon means big-headed or stubborn in Spanish, and the large head is a distinct feature of this fish.

Habitat & Behavior

Cabezon are found in a wide range of habitats (rocky, muddy and sandy bottoms, jetties, and kelp beds) and at depths of 0 to 200 meters. Cabezon feed on crustaceans, mollusks, fish, and fish eggs. Most of their time is spent sitting in holes, on reefs, in pools, or on kelp blades beneath the canopy, but not actively swimming.

About this map

The bright yellow areas in this map show reef habitat that is more suitable for cabezon, while dark blue areas are less suitable. Researchers modeled suitability across all currently known reefs in the Southern California Bight (the dashed gray line shows the extent of the modeled area). The model has a spatial resolution of 200 meters and includes areas shallower than or equal to 45 meters deep.

Data source: Species distribution model derived from Zellmer et al. 2019 in Frontiers in Marine Science, 6. [link]

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Amanda J. Zellmer for generously sharing this coastal marine biodiversity data.

References: Fishbase. “Scorpaenichthys marmoratus.” [link]