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Embiotoca lateralis - Striped perch

Geographic range:
Wrangell, Alaska to Punta Cabros, Baja California, Mexico

Key features:
Laterally compressed body with numerous blue-to-iridescent stripes running from head to tail.

Similar species:
Embiotoca jacksoni -- Black perch Hypsurus caryi -- Rainbow perch

bay (rocky shore), estuary, exposed rocky shore, kelp forest, protected rocky shore
Embiotoca lateralis - Striped perch image


Primary common name:
Striped Perch
  ITIS code:
Synonymous name(s):
General grouping:
Bony fishes

Geographic Range
Range description:
Embiotoca lateralis can be found from Wrangell, Alaska to Punta Cabros, Baja California.
Northern latitude extent:
  Southern latitude extent:
East longitude extent:
  West longitude extent:

Intertidal Height
Lowest intertidal height:
0 meters OR 0 feet
  Highest intertidal height:
0 meters OR 0 feet
Intertidal height notes:

Subtidal Depth Range
Minimum depth:
0 meters OR 0 feet
  Maximum depth:
50 meters OR 0 feet
Subtidal depth notes:
Often found in kelp forests and near pier pilings.

bay (rocky shore), estuary, exposed rocky shore, kelp forest, protected rocky shore
Habitat notes:
Embiotoca lateralis inhabits reefs, piers, and kelp beds usually preferring areas with lots of bushy algae. This fish can also be found in bays and in offshore areas, as well as estuaries, usually in eelgrass beds. It occupies depths from the intertidal to 50 m.

Relative abundance:
Embiotoca lateralis is rarely seen between Santa Barbara and Punta Banda, Baja California off the mainland coast. However, they are present around the islands of San Miguel, Santa Rosa and part of Santa Cruz, where cool waters exist, and in the cold, upwelled waters around several of the rocky points off Baja California.

Species Description
General description:
Embiotoca lateralis belongs to the family Embiotocidae, the Surfperches. The genus name Embiotoca is formed from two Greek words, meaning living within and offspring, referring to characteristic of this species producing live young. The species name lateralis is Latin and means side, referring to the stripes on the sides of this species body.
Distinctive features:
Embiotoca lateralis has a deep and very compressed body that has red, blue, and yellow stripes on sides. The stripes are curved above the lateral line and horizontal below it. There is neon blue mottling on the head and gill cover and the upper lip is often black. The pelvic fins are dusky and the caudal fin base is orange. The upper jaw extends beyond the lower and the maxilla is exposed. The base of the anal fin is longer than distance from pelvic fin insertion to anal fin origin. Embiotoca lateralis has 10 — 11 dorsal spines, 23 — 25 dorsal soft rays, 3 anal fin spines and 29 — 33 anal soft rays. Middle dorsal fin spine about one-half the length of the soft rays. Embiotoca lateralis can best be distinguished from Rainbow Surfperch, Hypsurus caryi, which has red-orange pelvic fins with blue edges and 21 — 23 soft rays in the anal fin. While both species have similar coloration, Hypsurus caryi is more elongated and have black bars on their backs. Embiotoca lateralis is shaped like the Black Surfperch, Embiotoca jacksoni, but their stripes are much more colorful and they do not have large scales between the pectoral and pelvic fins.
Embiotoca lateralis can grow to a length of 38 cm.

Natural History
General natural history:
Male and female Embiotoca lateralis mature at about the same age, and their growth rates are probably similar though males may grow slightly faster. Embiotoca lateralis can live for 8 years. These fish usually occupy water near the bottom substrate or in midwater, either as solitary individuals or in small groups. However, in the spring and summer, they form pretty dense schools.
Embiotoca lateralis is preyed on by Brandt's Cormorants, Phalacrocorax penicillatus. They are harvested in small numbers by commercial hook-and-line fishers and about 100,000 fish are taken recreationally per year in north and central California.
Embiotoca lateralis feeds mostly on shrimps, crabs gammarid amphipods, worms, mussels, herring eggs, and other small bottom-dwelling invertebrates.

Feeding behavior
Feeding behavior(s):
Feeding behavior notes:
Embiotoca lateralis picks and browses for prey.
May - July  
Females are viviparous and spawning occurs from May into early summer off Oregon and Washington. Females produce between 11 and 92 young and these newly-spawned young live among the algae of shallow water reefs. Males and females mature at about the same age, some at about 2 years of age with most reaching maturity in their third year at a length of 22 - 25 cm.
Boschung, H.T., J.D. Williams, D.W. Gotshall, D.K. Caldwell, and M.C. Caldwell. 1998. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Fishes, Whales and Dolphins. A.A. Knoph, New York, NY. 848 p.

Eschmeyer, W.N., and E.S. Herald. 1983. A Field Guide to Pacific Coast Fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA. 336 p.

Froese, R. and D. Pauly (eds.). 2006 (Updated 01/02/06). FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication., Accessed [04/25/06].

Gotshall, D. 2001. Pacific Coast Inshore Fishes. Sea Challengers, Monterey, CA. 117 p.

Love, M. 1996. Probably more than you want to know about the fishes of the Pacific Coast. Really Big Press, Santa Barbara, CA. 381 p.

Data supplied by SIMoN Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network
Anthopleura xanthogrammica - Giant green anemone

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