This funny looking fish may have a passing resemblance and is often called an eel, but is not a true eel (3). Instead, they are members of the order Perciformes which comprises over 40% of all bony fish. Up to 80 cm long, monkeyface prickleback have large black lips and a dorsal fin that runs the length of their back (3). They are a uniform black, green or gray occasionally with orange spots (2)(3). Their elongated body shape allows them to live in holes and crevices in intertidal and kelp forest (3). Dietary preferences change over the course of their lifecycle, with juveniles eating zooplankton and mature monkeyface prickleback preferring red and green algae (1).
(1) California Department of Fish and Wildlife. (2010, July). Nearshore Finfish Profiles.
(2) Eschmeyer, W. N., & Herald, E. S. (1983). A field guide to Pacific Coast fishes: North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
(3) Monterey Bay Aquarium. (n.d.). Monkeyface-eel.
(Photograph) © Joseph Dougherty, M.D./ecology.org
- rocky intertidal