Opaleye Girella nigricans

Type of Animal:
Sea Chub

Temperate shallow kelp forest, kelp beds, shallow rocky reefs, tide pools, shallow areas over rocks/kelp beds, intertidal zones over rocks/kelp beds, rocky areas, rocky shorelines, found in depths of 3.3-105 ft, juveniles more common in intertidal areas

E Pacific from N California to Baja California Sur as well as Gulf of California

Laterally compressed oval-bodied fish w/ blunt short snout, short rounded blunt fins, opal blue-green eyes, adults gray-green to olive-green, juveniles bluish on dorsal surface & silvery on ventral surface, continuous dorsal fin, straight margined tail fin

Kelp, sea lettuce, seaweed, seagrass, algae, tubeworms, crustaceans, hydroids

Status in Wild:

Not applicable

Schools of 10-50 fish

Additional Info:

Young: Fry
Group: School
5-10 lbs

1-3 days 

Life Span:
12 years

Body Length:
Adult: 6.96-20.4 in
Young: 1 in

Main predators are pinnipeds, birds, & larger fish.
Also called rudderfish, opaleye perch, green perch, blue bass, button bass, Catalina perch, & blue-eye perch, jack benny, button-back, chopa verde, greenfish, bluefish, & black perch.
Juveniles have tricuspid teeth while adults have simple teeth.
Spawning occurs from April-June.
These fish broadcast spawners, releasing sperm/eggs into water to fertilize.
Eggs/larvae free floating.
Reach maturity at 2 years old.
These fish are quite fast.
Sometimes school w/ other fish species.
These fish can be very skittish.
Gets opaleye name due to eyes & rudderfish name due to rudder-like tail.
Gulf of California population may be genetically distinct.

Fun Fact(s):
Sometimes confused w/ Halfmoons, Gulf Opaleyes, & Zebra Perch.
Very popular gamefish in California.
Frozen peas very popular bait used when catching these fish.
Can breathe air when out of water.
These fish are most commonly fried or grilled.
These fish most often caught from shores/piers.
These fish known to be very hard to hook/catch & sometimes put up a fight when hooked.
Sea lions often get lungworm due to eating these fish. These fish are a common intermediate host for lungworm Parafilaroides decorus (Sea Lion Lungworm), which is common cause of death for sea lions.

4 thoughts on “Opaleye

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