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Species index
Species Index
Emerald Diving
Explore the coastal and inland waters of
Washington and BC
Rock Prickleback
Xiphister mucosus
Typical size: 2-6” length
ID: Dorsal runs length of body to gills.  Dark bars and light lines radite from eyes. Olive colored tail.
Comments: This is a rare find for divers, but an easy dive for beachcombers.  This little fish is often abundant in the intertidal zone and lives under rocks or in tidepools.  Photographed on the beach at God's Pocket on Hurst Island, British Columbia.

Rock Prickleback
Decorated Warbonnet
Decorated Warbonnet
Chirolophis decoratus
Typical Size: 3-18” length
ID:
Long eel-like body, elaborated head cirri that are uneven and higher at the front and back of the head.  Typically brown/tan in color. 
Comments:  Getting a body shot of this remarkable fish has eluded me for some time.  I have plenty of head shots of the shy decorated warbonnet that prefers to stay in the safety of its den.  I finally got this subpar body shot of a very small decorated warbonnet (about 4" long) at Sares Head in the San Juan Islands.


High Cockscomb
High Cockscomb
Anoplarchus purpurescens
Typical Size: 4-5” length
ID:
Fleshy crest on head, although sometimes small.  Dark body with lighter color around dorsal area.  Dark masking on head.  Females have white spots on body (as in this picture).  Males have orange pectoral and anal fins.
Comments:  I rarely note the very shy high cockscomb.  These little fish much prefer to hide under logs on anywhere that offers descent cover.  This picture was taken on a night dive at Three Tree Point.

Mosshead Warbonnet
Mosshead Warbonnet
Chirolophis nugator
Typical Size: 4-8” length
ID:
Long, slender, eel-like body with a single dorsal that runs the length of the body.  “Head-dress” consists of an even mat of cirri.  Black spots along dorsal.  Body color can be brown or red.
Comments:  I only occasionally note the fascinating mosshead warbonnet.  This eel-like fish prefers the sancuary of cracks and crevices in rocky reefs.  The red variation of this species is particularly striking.
Pacific Snake Prickleback
Pacific Snake Prickleback
Lumpenus sagitta
Typical Size: 12-18” length
ID:
Long, snake-like body.  Silvery-gray with golden-brown patches.
Comments:
  I only note the Pacific snake prickleback on night dives on soft substrates, and usually at depths of over 60 feet. I may note 5 or 6 of these unusual fish on a dive, then none the week later.  They seem to come and go as a school.