Tidepool Sculpin

Author: Taylor Dew-Jones

Common Name:  Tidepool Sculpin

Scientific Name:  Oligocottus maculosus

Size Range:  up to 9cm (3.5 inches)

Identifying Features:  All Tidepool Sculpins look very similar to one another, though distinct from other tide pool creatures. They have long, thin bodies with big heads and stripes all the way down the length of their body. Frequently you will find around 5 stripes on their body. Common Tidepool Sculpin colouring is grey or green, but their colour is not limited to that; you can find tidepool sculpins of almost every colour.

Habitat:  Tidepool Sculpins are salt water fish that live in tidepools and in sheltered intertidal areas. They are usually found near rocks in the low-level of the tide pool. Tidepool Sculpins have been known to live in water as cold as 0.5C (33 F). Interestingly enough, Tidepool Sculpins are able to find their way back to their favourite tidepools following a high tide.

Food:  Tidepool Sculpins eat small Invertebrates, isopods, amphipods, shrimp and worms. They can change the colouring of their bodies to blend in with their surroundings allowing them to ambush their prey. By surprising their prey and quickly chowing down, it is an effective way to hunt.

Predators:  Tidepool Sculpins have a number of predators. Common predators of the Tidepool Sculpin are the Great Blue Heron (Ardea Herodias), larger fish and crabs but they are also likely eaten by other shore birds, river otters and foraging raccoons.  Luckily for them, they were graced with speed and the ability to blend and hide allowing them to protect themselves from creatures who would like to eat them.

Life Cycle:  Tidepool Sculpins generally live to be 5 years old. They are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs. The color of the eggs can vary depending on where they are laid. Typically they will be green or pink. It falls on the fins of the male tidepool sculpins to watch the eggs for the majority of the time.

Photographs and video by D. Young and E. Pringle


Hart J.L (1988). Pacific fishes of Canada Fisheries Research Board of Canada.

Pierce B. E.  and Pierson K. B. 1990. Growth and Reproduction of the Tidepool Sculpin Oligocottus maculosus, Japanese Journal of Ichthyology, Vol.36,No.4 Retrieved June 2010 from http://www.springerlink.com/content/ppmw081t426v5086/

Sempier, S (2003). Tidepool Sculpin. Marine species with aquaculture potential. Retrieved in May 2010 from http://hmsc.oregonstate.edu/projects/msap/PS/masterlist/fish/tidepoolsculpin.html

Tidepool organisms. Retrieved May 2010 from http://www.ocmarineprotection.org/marine_life_descriptions.pdf

Tidepool Animals (June 2002). Think Quest. Retrieved May 2010 from http://library.thinkquest.org/J001418/animals.html

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