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Species: Girella nigricans, California opaleye

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blue-green eye
back: 1-2 pale spots
D, A & C blunt
incisors 3-pointed

Girella nigricans (Ayres, 1860)

California opaleye

Body oval, moderately compressed;  head blunt, short; mouth small, square, lips thick, opens at the front; the top jawbone slips partially under the under-eye bone when the mouth is closed; teeth incisiform, bases set horizontally in mouth, with curved, hockey-stick shape, outer band of large movable teeth with flattened, 3 pointed tips; no teeth on central roof of mouth; dorsal fin continuous, XII-XIV spines that fold down into a scaly groove, 12-15; anal rays III, 10-13; spines on fin short, thick; dorsal and anal fins blunt; tail blunt, straight; paired fins are relatively short; origin of the pelvics behind the base of the pectoral fin; scales small, thick and rough, covering the body, head (except the snout) and soft portions of the median fins; scales in midlateral series about 50.

Olive-green to grey-green; usually 2 pale spots on upper back below middle of dorsal fin (absent in large adults); often white bar across snout between eyes; eye bright blue-green; juvenile blue above, silvery below.

Size: 66 cm.

Habitat: demersal on rocky shores.

Depth: 1-32 m.

California to the southern Baja, an isolated population in the central and northern Gulf of California, plus the Revillagigedos.

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  • Marine Only
  • Marine
  • Inshore Only
  • Inshore
Water Column Position
  • Near Bottom
  • Bottom + water column
  • Bottom
  • Rocks
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Water column
  • Submerged vegetation
  • Reef only
FishBase Habitat
  • Bentho-Pelagic
Feeding Group
  • Omnivore
  • Data
  • Sessile molluscs
  • Ectoparasites
  • Benthic macroalgae/seagrasses
  • Sessile crustacea
  • Sessile worms
  • Data
  • Benthic microalgae
Egg Type
  • Pelagic
  • No data
  • Pelagic larva
Global Endemism
  • TEP non-endemic
  • East Pacific endemic
  • All species
Regional Endemism
  • Continent only
  • Continent
  • California province, primarily
  • Temperate Eastern Pacific, primarily
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic
  • All species
  • Vagrant
Climate Zone
  • North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California)
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
IUCN Red List
  • Listed
  • Least concern
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 66
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 32