Tidepool Sculpin

Oligocottus maculosus


Order: Scorpaeniformes

Family: Cottidae

The Oligocottus maculosus is a small species that can get up to 9 cm found within the rocky intertidal zone and along sandy coasts.   (1).  Some physical characteristics include dark patches along the back of the small fish and large dorsal and anal fins.  Tidepool sculpins have sharp spines on their head for protection against predators and lack scales.  While lacking come armor that could be utilized for protection, these sculpins have great speed and camouflage well.  Females lay several groupings of eggs annually that are not guarded.  In addition, the Oligocottus maculosus live for about five years and are considered mature at one year of age (2).  One interesting and unique fact about the tidepool sculpin is their ability to walk on land during low tide by breathing from the air.  The pectoral fins do not help provide propulsion but are solely for balance (3).



  • Rocky Intertidal Zone


(1) Green, J. M. 1971. Local distribution of Oligocottus maculosus Girard and other tidepool cottids of the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Zoology 49:1111–1128.


(2) “Tidepool Sculpin.” WebMD, 21 Nov. 2018, https://www.pugetsound.edu/academics/academic-resources/slater-museum/exhibits/marine-panel/tidepool-sculpin/


(3) Bressman, N. R., A. C. Gibb, and S. C. Farina. 2018. A walking behavior generates functional overland movements in the tidepool sculpin, Oligocottus maculosus. Zoology.