Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Cheilopogon pinnatibarbatus californicus, California flyingfish, Smallhead flyingfish

All Families:   All Genera:   All Species:

D 9-13, large dark spot
pectoral to C base, grey + broad clear margin
C, A & pelvic clear
pelvic long, origin nearer operculum

Cheilopogon pinnatibarbatus californicus (Cooper, 1863)

Smallhead flyingfish, California flyingfish

Body relatively slender (depth < 16% of SL); head relatively short (< 22% of SL); snout short (~ eye diameter);; mouth small, jaws ~ equal length, or lower a little longer, top one not protrusible; jaw teeth with 1 point, sometimes with smaller secondary points; sides of roof of mouth with teeth; fins without spines; 9-13 dorsal rays; 9-12 anal rays; pectoral reaches tail fin base, its 1st  ray unbranched; pelvic origin nearer operculum than base of tail fin, fin long, reaches nearly to end of anal base; anal origin under 3rd  dorsal ray; tail deeply forked with a longer lower lobe; lateral line low on the body, no branch to origin of pectoral; scales large, smooth, easily shed; ~50 scales in front of dorsal fin; juveniles chin with complex fan-like barbel with 14 flaps.

Blue-grey above, silvery below; dorsal with a large dark spot; pectorals dark grey with a wide clear border; remaining fins clear.

Size: reaches 48 cm.

Habitat: surface layers inshore and offshore.

Depth: 0-10 m.

Oregon to the tip of Baja California, the southern Gulf of California, also the Revillagigedos Islands.

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  • Marine
  • Marine Only
  • Offshore Only
  • Offshore
Water Column Position
  • Surface
  • Water column only
  • Water column
FishBase Habitat
  • Pelagic
Feeding Group
  • Planktivore
  • No Data
  • Zooplankton
  • Pelagic fish eggs
  • No Data
  • Pelagic fish larvae
Egg Type
  • Pelagic
  • Pelagic larva
  • No data
Global Endemism
  • TEP non-endemic
  • East Pacific endemic
  • All species
Regional Endemism
  • Island (s)
  • California province, primarily
  • Continent
  • All species
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic
  • Temperate Eastern Pacific, primarily
  • Continent + Island (s)
  • Vagrant
Climate Zone
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
  • North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California)
  • Northern Tropical (Mexican Province to Nicaragua + Revillagigedos)
IUCN Red List
  • Least concern
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 48
Depth Range Min
  • 0
Depth Range Max
  • 10