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NEWS Photo By Mary Catharine Martin | Ccw All dressed up and nowhere to go - that's how you might describe the existence of the decorated warbonnet, also called a decorated prickleback or decorated blenny. This saltwater fish is aptly named. The prominent cirri on its head resemble an Indian chieftain's warbonnet. More cirri project behind the head along the eel-like body, and under the lower jaw. Scientists are not sure what purpose the cirri serve. Perhaps they mimic the mossy invertebrates surrounding the warbonnet's lair and serve as camouflage, or maybe they attract unsuspecting prey like the lure of an anglerfish. Despite its lack-luster beige coloration, the luxuriant cirri, large eyes, and thick lips make the warbonnet look like a cartoon character or circus clown. Behind the frilly head, the compressed eel-like body can extend for up to 42 centimeters in length. Broad dark bars accentuate the fins and appear like runny mascara under the eyes. Decorated warbonnets are cold-water fish of the North Pacific, ranging from Humboldt Bay in California, to the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea, and living at subtidal depths between 15-91 meters. They eat small invertebrates like mollusks, anemones, shrimp, and other small creatures, which wander near its habitat. They are shy and very secretive, rarely venturing out from their homes inside small, rocky crevices.

NOAA Fish Spotlight


Photo Courtesy Of Noaa
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