Reproductive Biology

Sailfin sculpins copulate, and internal gametic association enables the female to repeatedly extrude the bright orange eggs into interstitial spaces among mussels in the intertidal over a period of weeks during winter. The female must migrate into shallow water during high tides in order to reach the mussel beds, where the eggs are periodically exposed to air but are kept cool and damp by the mussels. Larval sailfin sculpins develop extremely elongate pectoral fins that are spread like butterfly wings and used to glide down through the water column while the larva forages on zooplankton. This behavior enables sailfin sculpins to reach relatively large sizes before permanently settling during late spring.

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