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Photo courtesy of NOAA

Bottomfish Identification: Sculpins

Brown Irish Lord
Hemilepidotus spinosus

Occasionally caught by recreational harvesters in Puget Sound. Caught incidentally in the commercial fishery off the outer Washington coast.

Description: The body of the brown Irish lord is predominantly brown, often tinged with red on the dorsal surface, mottled and barred with 4 dark saddles along the back. It has 11 dorsal spines, 18-20 dorsal soft rays, and 35 vertebrae. This species lacks an anal spine.  The dorsal fin of the brown Irish lord is deeply notched between the third and fourth spine, and between the spinous and rayed portions. The caudal fin is rounded. This species is easily confused with the red Irish lord but is distinguished by nostrils that have fleshy flaps and a scaled stripe above the lateral line that is six to eight scales wide.

Maximum Size: To 29 cm (11.4 in) in length.

Maximum Age: Information is lacking for this species.

Range/Habitat: Brown Irish lord range from Puffin Bay, southeastern Alaska to Santa Barbara Island, southern California. They are usually found in subtidal areas of exposed coasts and range in depths from shallow waters to 780 m (2,560 ft).


  • Eschmeyer, W.N., E.S. Herald and H. Hammann, 1983. A field guide to Pacific coast fishes of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, U.S.A. 336 p.
  • Humann, P. and H. Hall, 1996. Coastal fish identification: California to Alaska. New World Pubns Inc.