St. Lawrence species

Sculpin

Myoxocephalus scorpius

Type of resource

  • Bottom fish
  • Fish

Other names

Short-spined sea scorpion, horthorn sculpin, warty sculpin, father lasher, bull rout

Culinary name

Sculpin

Status of the resource

  • Not determined

In season

Fresh during summer and autumn.

SIZE : From 15 to 30 cm, up to 60 cm.

LIFE EXPECTANCY : Up to 18 years.

LIFE CYCLE : Sexual maturity is reached at approximately 2 years of age.
Spawning occurs near the end of November. The female will lay up to 60,000 eggs. The male is responsible for the protection of the eggs during a period of 3 months, up until they hatch.

On the defensive

In addition to its spines, the sculpin has another very efficient defence mechanism: it has the ability to modify its color and camouflage with its environment.

The sculpin has a stocky elongated body with a plain variable color, which is dotted or striped. During reproduction, the male’s belly becomes red with large white spots. This fish has a large head with big eyes and a wide mouth. It can eat relatively large fish compared to its size. It has spines on its head’s operculum, as well as on its gills and back.

On the seabed, up to 450 m deep.

On muddy or sandy bottoms or on beds of seaweed, near the coast.

PREYS :

Crabs
Shrimps
Urchins
Small fishes

 

PREDATORS : 

Cods
Seals
Seabirds

Credit : Robert Baronet, photo taken in Exploramer's aquariums, in 2010.

There is no direct fishing for sculpin in Quebec. It is sometimes accidentally captured with catches of other bottom feeders. It can be used as bait for larger fish or lobster but is still good for human consumption.

BENEFITS :
Source of protein.

LET’S COOK :
Delicate and tender white meat, much like that of cod or haddock.

Braised or oven-baked are the preferred methods of cooking. It is also very good in fish stews or chowders.

Careful, it stings.

If you are going to fillet the fish watch out for the spines. As well as hurting, the operculum on the head of the sculpin become poisonous during reproduction time.