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Marine Toxic Contaminants

Species Monitored: Staghorn Sculpin

Staghorn sculpin (Leptocottus armatus)
TOPS-Marine Science Experience, Occidental College

The Pacific staghorn sculpin is a demersal species, which occupies a relatively high trophic level, feeding mostly on crabs, shrimps and amphipods, but also on larval, juvenile and adult fishes, as well as polychaete worms, mollusks and other invertebrates. The maximum reported age for these fish is 10 years. They have restricted movement, making them an excellent candidate for correlating the degree of contaminant exposure among sampling locations with the degree and spatial extent of sediment contamination.

Unlike English sole, Pacific staghorn sculpin have relatively large adhesive benthic eggs that are deposited on the substrate (muddy, sandy or rocky bottoms) in clusters, making them an excellent species for monitoring reproductive impairment in situ and in laboratory studies.