Each year more than 15,000 people visit the Kodiak Laboratory.
One of the biggest attractions is our 3,500-gallon aquarium and touch tank.
Join us as we take our website visitors on a virtual tour to meet some of the unique and fascinating animals that live in our giant ocean tank.
Each month we will highlight a different marine species from invertebrates such as crabs or mollusks to sea stars (echinoderms) and fish.
Meet the Sailfin Sculpin
It is a beautiful day here in the Kodiak Lab in Kodiak, Alaska the home of our resident Sailfin Sculpin!
Sailfin sculpin, Nautichthys oculofasciatus, are moderately sized fish that grow up to 8 inches long. These sculpin inhabit a large geographic range from the Northern Bering Sea to central California, so they can be found in water ranging from 40°F - 60°F and from shallow tide pools to depths up to 360 feet (110 meters).
As you have probably noticed, these sculpin are aptly named for their striking first dorsal fin. That first fin can stick straight up like a sail at times, but can also be tucked down and to the side. These sculpins use their tall first dorsal fin to appear bigger when threatened and also as a type of camouflage. The action of the fish's sailfin swaying back and forth in the current helps them to blend in while hiding amongst algae. This sculpin also has coloration that acts as disruptive camouflage (spots or stripes of different colors that break up the body pattern). This includes the black bands running down its head and over its eyes and the speckled brown and grey shades on its body.
This sculpin uses disruptive camouflage to blend into the water amongst the rocks and algae. These sculpins are nocturnal animals, meaning that they are more active at night when they hunt and feed on zooplankton, small crabs, or fish.
The Sailfin Sculpin is very stunning swimming through our touch tank where you can see it along with many more animals!