Fish in the Intertidal Zone

a small sculpin blends in to a sand surface
Sculpins can blend in quite well to surfaces of the intertidal zone. NPS Photo

A variety of fish feed in the intertidal zone at high tide, but most withdraw with the receding water of ebb tide. Several species, however, are likely to be seen hiding in tidepools under rocks or in mussel beds. Sculpins, or bullheads, are usually brown or mottled with large heads, wide mouths, a long tapering tail, and pronounced pectoral (side) fins. Most are less than two inches long.

Several kinds of gunnels and pricklebacks are found under rocks, in mussel beds, or partially buried in coarse sand. Collectively, they are referred to as “blenny eels.” They are long and thin eel-like fish which thrash wildly when disturbed. Like sculpins, they are generalized feeders. They east seaweeds, scavenge dead animals, and prey on small shrimp, fish and other animals.

a sculpin hides among rocks
Spot the sculpin! NPS Photo

Last updated: March 16, 2018

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