Body moderately compressed, relatively slender; eye with well developed transparent eyelid; top jaw with an outer row of canines and an inner band of fine teeth; lower jaw with one row of teeth; gill rakers (excluding rudiments) 13-15 + 28-30; margin of body at rear of gill chamber without papillae; pectoral fins longer than head; dorsal rays VIII + I, 22-25; anal rays II + I, 18-21; dorsal and anal fins not followed by finlets; lateral line with a pronounced, but short anterior arch; scales on straight part of lateral line 0-7, followed by 45-56 strong scutes; breast completely scaled .
Light olive to dark bluish green on back, silvery grey to golden below; fins pale; black spot on gill cover; juveniles with about 7 dark bars on body.
Size: grows to at least 70 cm.
Habitat: a common, schooling species over soft bottoms.
Depth: 0-100 m.
Southern California to Chile, and all the offshore islands; occasionally recorded in abundance at Hawaii but not established there.