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Species index
Species Index
Emerald Diving
Explore the coastal and inland waters of
Washington and BC
Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker
Eumicrotremus orbis
Typical Size: 0.5”-2” length
ID:
Stocky body with cone shaped, spiny scales. Modified pelvic fins forms a “sucker” disk. Varies from dark brown to yellow-brown to maroon.
Comments:  The highly touted Pacific spiny lumpsucker is rarely noted by divers. It takes patence and keen  observation to reveal this well camouflaged and unusual little fish. I often find lumpsuckers starting in late summer through fall at Three Tree Point at depths of 20 feet or less attached to broadleaf kelp. 
Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker
Marbled Snailfish Juvenile
Liparis dennyi
Typical Size: 1-2” length
ID: Lump at base of first dorsal fin.  Like other snailfish, curls its tail around its head when resting.  Protruding nostrils.  Anal fin only slightly overlaps caudal fin. 
Comments:  I have ever only seen one adult marbled snailfish.  With the assistance of Andy Lamb, we think this is a juvenile marbled snailfish.  Although I have never noted this species in the shallows at Three Tree Point in 8 years, in Spring of 2008 I regularly noted this little fish in the shallows on the broadleaf kelp.

Marbled Snailfish
Showy Snailfish
Liparis pulchellus
Typical Size: 4-5” length
ID: No lump at the front of the dorsal fin.  Like other snailfish, curls its tail around its head when resting.  Protruding nostrils.  Anal fin overlaps most of the caudal fin.  Modified pelvic fins form a sucker-like disk.
Comments: This amazing little fish is another rare find - I have only found three in all my years of diving.  This showy was wrapped up in a kelp frond in 15 fsw on a night dive at Three Tree Point. Only the end of its tail was sticking out of the kelp.

Showy Snailfish
Slipskin Snailfish
Slipskin Snailfish
Liparis fucensis
Typical Size: up to 6” length
ID:
Lobe in front of dorsal fin. Modified pelvic fins forms a “sucker” disk. Coloration varies.
Comments:  Finding a snailfish is always treat.  This image is most likely a slipskin snailfish, although there is a slight possibility it is a spotted or ringtail snailfish.  Exact identification is difficult without examining the gill opening under the gill plate.  In 20 years of diving, I have only noted this species once.  Photographed at Redondo Beach in 70 feet of water in early March on a night dive.
Tidepool_Snailfish
Tidepool Snailfish
Liparis florae
Typical Size: up to 7” length
ID:
Lobe in front and seprate from dorsal fin. Modified pelvic fins forms a “sucker” disk. Coloration varies.
Comments:  Another difficult to ID snailfish without inspecting the gill opening.  This  little snailfish was found in 10 feet of water, originally on brown broadleaf kelp, which explains it's coloration, before moving to nearby green sea lettuce creating a nice contrasting photo opportunity.  Photographed in Christie Pass, just outside of God's Pocket Bay in 10 feet of water.