Short-Spined Bullhead

Fact File:

Common Name(s):
Short-spined Bullhead,
Greater Bullhead,
Shorthorn Sculpin (America),
Sea Scorpion,
Plucker (Scotland)

Scientific Name:
Myoxocephalus scorpius

Usual Size:
to 30 cm

UK Record Weights from rod/line:
2lb-7oz-8dr (1kg-119g)
Whitley Bay B.G.Logan 1982

2lb-3oz (992g)
Gt.Cumbrae Island,Scot. R.Stephenson 1973

MAFF Minimum Size: Shore: Boat:

A small fish with a stout body (flattened out wide about the same as it is high) with a head as large as the rest of its tapering body. Large cottid, or sculpin. This family of fish are usually regarded as ugly in appearance with a drab colour and this species has four short spines (two on each side, of the gill cover) that stick out when the fish is removed from the water. Usually in various shades of brown with large cream blotches. The pectoral fins are huge relative to the small squat body.
Similiar species: Taurulus bubalis is very similar in appearance. However, the two species can be readily distinguished because only T. bubalis has two white lappets on the corner of its wide mouth.
A specimen seen by Jane Lilley in 1998 had a very bold near black body with two narrow beige bands across the body and the same narrow bands forming a triangle on the head.

Spawning occurs during Dec to March, with the demersal eggs being laid in clumps between rocks, and then guarded by the male, until they hatch around 7.4 to 8.6mm, with the fry then being pelagic.

Shallow rocky areas, rarely intertidal

A large expandable mouth will swallow fish as big as itself. Flattened crushing teeth so it cannot eat anything it cannot swallow whole.

Shallower seas around the British Isles, commoner in the north.
English Channel, North Sea, Irish Sea.

Additional Notes:
The book name of Sea Scorpion may be used by divers.
The names Short-spined Sea Scorpion, Father-lasher are book names. The first one may be used by divers, but I (Andy Horton) have never been able to trace the colloquial use of the second name. It's used in Yarrell as one of many common names. The Shorthorn Sculpin is the American name as this fish is found on both sides of the North Atlantic.

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