Scoping Out Tide Pool Sculpins

Tide pool sculpins are the fish that you are most likely to see when you visit a tide pool. However, you must look closely, because they are the speed champions of tide pools, and they will dart and hide when you approach.

King Sculpins

Each sculpin has its own tide pool kingdom. It always returns to the same tide pool. Sculpins have armor all over their bodies, and they like to hide inside rocky areas that look like castles. Their eyes are close together on top of their heads.

Low Tide Alert!

During high tide, sculpins go on adventures. They swim up and down the shore looking for food. When the tide gets low, they hurry back to their own tide pools. As their home pools get drier and drier as the tide goes low and lower, they are still able to survive by burying in cool and moist seaweed or mud.

Strange Facts about Sculpins

Because sculpins have armored bodies, the U.S. Navy named one of its submarines the USS Sculpin. Submarines move along the bottom of the sea just the same way that sculpins spend their time at the bottom of tide pools. A different type of sculpin lives in the cold waters of the North Pole.

Tip: Finding Sculpins

Sculpins are reddish brown and about 4 inches long. They are camouflaged to look like the rocks around them. Each sculpin develops the colors of its own tide pool. To find a sculpin, approach a tide pool slowly. As soon as the fish sees you, it will dart, and you will be able to see it against its rocky background.

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Designed and written by Sherry Weaver Smith, last modified 3/2002.