With a name like “red Irish lord” (Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus), you kinda half expect this fish to come out a-tappity-tappin’ on its tail. But unlike the Lord of the Dance, this fish isn’t Irish. Despite its name – it’s actually found right here in British Columbian waters.
This sculpin species is Jennifer D.’s Staff Pick of the Month. She spends most of her time in the galleries as an interpretation specialist at the Aquarium, so she peers into the Quadra Island exhibit in the Treasures of the BC Coast gallery every day. The problem is, she can’t always see them.
“They’re amazing at blending in – with all of the coralline algae and strawberry anemones – that they go unnoticed quite easily.”
This fish, found from Russia to California, is predominately red or bright pink, and comes in an amazing variety of colour patterns that include splashes of brown, white and black. Despite their flamboyant colouration, they can be hard to spot when camouflaging.
Jennifer says she likes to challenge visitors to visual games of hide-and-seek to see how many they can find. “Sometimes they’re in the same spots as before, but I enjoy being surprised when I notice one in a different location – I’m like ‘Gotcha!’”
*As a side note, long-time Aquarium fish scientist Dr. Jeff Marliave was one of the first to hatch and raise this species of sculpin in the lab here at the Aquarium. In fact, he was the first to propagate 13 other local sculpin species.
Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.