Speckled Sanddab

Speckled Sanddab
Citharichthys stigmaeus

One of the more numerous fish along the west coast -- and one of the least noticed -- is the Speckled Sanddab.  Resting on the bottom, it blends perfectly with its surroundings, whether it be sand, gravel or shell rubble, due to its amazing ability to change color.  Sanddabs range from 3 - 6 inches when full-grown, and can be found from Alaska to Baja California.

A member of the flounder family, Sanddabs begin life swimming -- and looking -- like a normal fish.  A few weeks after birth, the skull twists and the right eye "migrates" through a slit in the head and settles on the left side, adjacent to the other eye.  The Sanddab then settles to the bottom and spends the rest of its days flat on its right side, which develops pigment.  The underside remains white.  All flounders undergo this transformation, although some species are "right-eyed" while others (like the Sanddab) are "left-eyed".

Lens: 120mm Macro
Film: Velvia
Location: La Jolla Shores, CA
©1999 Garry McCarthy