Offshore, Nearshore, Piers, Jetties
5 - 13 pounds
12" - 40"
Belonging to the tilefish family, Malacanthidae, the Ocean Whitefish (Caulolatilus princeps) is the only member that could naturally be found off the coast of California. It’s certainly a small fish as its maximum size can only reach around three feet in length. But even with its small stature, this fish species is quite a popular target among anglers and commercial fishers because of its highly sought lean and flaky meat that has an exquisite taste.
The Ocean Whitefish has an elongated body that often has a light brown coloration on top and tapers gradually until it reaches the pearly white bellies. Its single dorsal fin is long that starts from the neck to the base of the tail. Although not as long as the dorsal fin, its anal fin is long as well—starting from the middle of the belly, down to the tail base. All of its fins are turquoise in color with some yellow/yellow-green tinge that runs across the fins’ edges.
The spawning season starts in late autumn and ends when the weather starts to get warmer, usually during early spring. It often occurs off the coast of Baja California in Mexico although they have been known to spawn within the waters of Southern California in the US when the weather gets warmer. They fertilize their pelagic eggs externally which tend to stay within pelagic zones even during larval stages. They would then reach maturity in about three to five years.
The Ocean Whitefish is a carnivore, feeding mostly on small marine animals such as crabs, shrimps, octopi, and squid, as well as some small fish species, depending on what’s available for them. Although they have been known to inhabit shallow waters, particularly within rocky reefs and kelp beds, they would sometimes swim into deeper waters during the day to look for food. Aside from humans, known predators of the Ocean Whitefish include sea lions, giant sea bass, and sharks.