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Mosshead Warbonnet  (Chirolophis nugator)

Click for a larger image of the Mosshead Warbonnet

Also known as the mosshead prickleback or ornamental blenny, this very small (less than 6 inches long) but colorful fish is a prized find for local underwater photographers.  With skittish and very secretive behavior, divers must keep a sharp eye out to spot the wary mosshead.  Often all they will see is the small fringed head poking out of a beer bottle or tube worm hole.

Mosshead Warbonnet FaceThis species can be found ranging from Southern California to the Aleutian Chain of Islands in Alaska.  They prefer a rocky substrate and are typically found at depths from sub-tidal to about 80 feet.  Feeding on small fish and invertebrates from our rich waters, the small size of these colorful fish makes them prey for most species of larger fish.

The mosshead warbonnet looks similar to the much larger decorator warbonnet that has had a crew cut.  There are lots of small projections on top of the head (hence the name).    Color cannot be relied on for a positive ID as the mosshead can be pale brown to bright red.