Myoxocephalus scorpius

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Shorthorn sculpin from the Croatan sound

Shorthorn Sculpin - Myoxocephalus scorpius

Habitat Benthic creatures living in up to 350 ft of water within rocky or sandy areas. These are cold water fish that enjoy spending their time in colder water even during the summer time. With water temperatures ranging 55 degrees of below. The shorthorn sculpin has also been found to have an antifreeze protein that helps them live in these cold waters.

Range Found on the coast of the Atlantic oceans spanning from the Antarctic ocean down to New York.

Description Dark shades of brown in color with spots on the body and stripes on all of their fins. The belly of female fish are white/yellow color. While the males have reddish orange bellies. The fish are also equipped with large mouths, flat heads, and a tapered bodies reaching 20-30 cm long.

Ecological Notes Sluggish fish that are almost always on the ocean floor. They have large pectoral fins that open in a wing like manner but if they do need to move somewhere quickly they may tapper these large fins back allowing for faster speeds. The name shorthorn comes from the one short horn in front of each eye and two behind the eyes. Shorthorn sculpins have been found to live up to different ages in different areas in a study completed by Luksenburg.

The mating season of shorthorn sculpins happens once a year for a month in the beginning of winter. After mating the females lay eggs in a shallow area then return to deeper water while there male mates watch over the eggs for three months till they hatch.

Personal Information I encountered this fish in the Croatan sound off of Roanoke island. The sculpin was caught off the back of a boat while trolling.

References Marine species identification portal [1] [2]

Nature Gate [3]

Journal Articles For information on the history of sexual and location changes of the Myoxocephalus scorpius:

[4]Luksenburg, J. (2002). Sexual and geographical variation in life history parameters of the shorthorn sculpin. Journal of Fish Biology, 61(6), 1453-1464. doi:10.1006/jfbi.2002.2159

For information on the Antifreeze protein in Myoxocephalus scorpius:

[5]Hew, C. L., Fletcher, G. L., & Ananthanarayanan, V. S. (1980). Antifreeze proteins from the shorthorn sculpin, Myoxocephalus scorpius: Isolation and characterization. Canadian Journal of Biochemistry, 58(5), 377-383. doi:10.1139/o80-049

Contributed by Megann McArthur- 2018

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