SIZE: 16-30 in. max 39 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. Short cirrus centered near tip of snout. 2. Prominent cirrus above each eye. 3. Notch in spinous dorsal fin after third or forth spine.
Marbled earthtones; can change color. Unscaled bulbous head and stout body. Common S. California and north to southern BC.
SIZE: 2-3 in. max 4 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. Red markings, often encircle a dark spot on first two dorsal fin segments. 2. Broad band of scales between dorsal fin and lateral line. 3. Small cirri on snout and larger ones between eyes, especially on males.
Mottled, spotted and blotched earthtone shades; usually several saddle markings on back. Abundant Alaska and Washington, occasional to rare to S. California.
SIZE: 1 1/2 - 4 in. max. 6 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. Black eye. 2. Black edge on dorsal fin.
Dark to pale tan. Common S. California to central BC.
SIZE: 3/4 - 2 in. max. 2 1/2 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: Brilliant red. 1. Four to nine electric-blue bars.
Foredorsal fin tall, especially in males. Rear body bars thinner. Abundant to common S. and central California.
SIZE: 6-16 in. max. 2 ft.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. Elongated head with pointed, slightly upturned snout. 2. Forked tail (all other kelpfish have rounded tail).
Color and markings vary greatly, includes shades of yellow. Common S. California, rare to the north.
SIZE: 2 - 3 1/2 in. max. 4 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. Foredorsal fin same height as soft dorsal and first few spines have flexible bent tips. 2. Rays of raised rear dorsal fin evenly spaces. 3. Pale rounded blotch extends onto cheek from lower rear quarter of eye.
Blotched, barred and striped in shades of red to maroon, lavender, orange, tan; tiny white to pale spots cover body; color change to match background. Abundant around islands in S. California; occasional coastal areas in S. California.
SIZE: 4-6 in. max. 10 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. Five to six bold, dark (usually red) bars encircle fins and body. 2. Pointed snout. 3. Two pair of cirri - one above each eye and another midway between eyes and dorsal fin.
Undercolor pale, red bars often shaded with brown. Mature males often turn nearly black during winter mating season. Occasional southern California to BC.
SIZE: 10-18 in. max. 2 ft.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: MALE: 1. Blue irregular spots on head and forebody, outlined by a few small, dark reddish brown spots. FEMALE: 2. Speckled with red-brown to gold spots over bluish white, fins generally yellow.
Pair of small cirri above eyes and another tiny pair between eyes and dorsal fin. Five lateral lines. Abundant to common Alaska to central California, rare S. California.
SIZE: 1 1/2 - 3 1/2 ft. max 5 ft.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. Large mouth with prominent canine teeth. 2. Long, even spinous dorsal separated by notch just before soft rear dorsal.
Numerous dark spots and several darkish blotches. Can lighten and darken with background. After mating, males guard masses of white eggs; guarding males often dark black. Occasional Alaska through California.
SIZE: 6-12 in. max. 14 1/2 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. Dark crescent-shaped marking on tail near base followed by large spot form "C-O". 2. Usually dark prominent midbody spot with pale patch behind. 3. Large, protruding bulbous eyes near tip of snout.
Mottled, spotted and blotched in rich shades of brown with occasional white spots. Occasional S. California to SE Alaska.
SIZE: 1-2 ft. max. 3 ft. (terminal phase male), 6-12 in. (initial phase)
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. White chin in both phases. TP: Red to orange or pink midbody; dark head and rear body. IP: Pink to reddish brown.
Two distinct color phases, terminal and initial. Older TPs develop a bulbous limp on nape. Occasional to uncommon central California; formally common but numbers greatly reduced by overfishing, especially spearfishing of large TP.
SIZE: 3-8 in. max 10 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: Yellow to orange to orange-brown. 1. Large black spot on tail base.
White belly. Cigar shaped. Abundant to common S. California; occasional to N. California.
SIZE: 12-14 in. max. 15 in. (terminal phase), 5-12 in. (initial phase)
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: TP: 1. Dark bar behind pectoral fin. IP: 2. Dark areas on scales form spotted stripe on upper side.
TP generally >12inches, green to lue-green and occasionally orange. IP typically between 5 and 12 inches, yellow to orange or orangish brown. Occasional S. California.
SIZE: 4-8 in. max. 1 ft.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: Blue-gray. 1. Black spots on scales primarily scattered from mid-body to tail.
Usually blue border on dorsal, anal, and tail fins. Typically swim in open water in large aggregations. Abundant to common S. California, occasional central California.
SIZE: 2-10 in. max. 14 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: Brilliant orange. 1. Display numerous iridescent blue spots until about 6 inches long.
Thin, oval shaped body; tail deeply notched between large rounded lobes. Aggressively territorial. Protected from any type of harvest as the California state marine fish. Abundant S. California; occasional to rare central California.
SIZE: 5 - 12 1/2 in. max. 15 1/2 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. About nine dusky bars on body 2. Narrow blue stripe along base of anal fin. 3. Patch of large scales between pectoral fin and ventral fin.
Thin-bodied; football shaped profile. Silvery, tinted with shades of orange to reddish brown. Large dark lips. Occasional central to S. California; uncommon to rare N. California.
SIZE: 3 1/2 - 7 in. max. 8 1/2 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. Snout pointed with upward jutting lower jaw. 2. Darkish areas on scales align to form several dusky stripes above midlateral line. 3. Head concave above eyes.
Thin-bodied.. Silvery with coppery sheen, often with bluish spots. Abundant to common N. California to B.C.; uncommon central and S. California.
SIZE: 6-14 in. max. 17 1/4 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. Dusky to dark bar below front portion of soft dorsal fin. 2. Black spot behind corner of mouth.
Thin-bodied; football-shaped profile. Silvery gray, occasionally brownish. Deeply forked tail. Common central California to B.C.
SIZE: 6-20 in. max 26 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. One to three white spots on back. 2. Bright blue to blue-green eyes.
Rounded, football shaped profile. Olive-green, often shaded with blue. Common S. California; occasional to uncommon north to Oregon.
SIZE: 3-4 in. max. 6 in.
DISTINCTIVE FEATURES: 1. Black eye ring. 2. Black bar from mid-dorsal fin to base of tail.
Silver head; silver-yellow body. Black ring around snout. Black bar from in front of dorsal fin to above eye.