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Funky, Freaky and Adorable is One Oregon/Washington Coast Fishie

Published 06/22/2020 at 3:44 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Funky, Freaky and Adorable is One Oregon/Washington Coast Fishie

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(Seaside, Oregon) – They are amusing, kind’a weird-looking and they are certainly colorful. Periodically you’ll find them in Oregon attractions such as at Seaside Aquarium or Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, but they generally don’t get this far south to these waters. (Photos courtesy Seaside Aquarium)

They are a unique and striking little fish called the Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker (Eumicrotremus orbis), and they’ve been described as being like a ping pong ball in the water, a golf ball or a fat little helicopter, among many other things. Not to be confused with the lumpfish – another little goof of the sea that inhabits the Atlantic – these are found in colder waters off the northern Washington coast to the Bering Sea and around Alaska and Japan. This wacky little guy is definitely a find in the Puget Sound area of Washington as well.

According to Tiffany Boothe at the Seaside Aquarium, most of these are an inch or two but they get up to five inches long. They’re a close cousin of the snailfish, and their colorful handle comes from how they stick themselves to rocks or other objects using a sucker on its pectoral area. Many photos show them glued to some surface at an odd angle.

The “spiny” part comes from the fact they don't have little scales as much as bumps covering their whole body.

That rather large sucker enables them to grab onto things rather stubbornly. The spiny lumpsucker is not known for being a good swimmer thanks to their wide, round bodies and little fins, which makes them hang out at the bottom of the ocean more than anywhere else.

According to the Seattle Aquarium, they dwell at rather shallow depths, usually at no more than 500 feet.

Because of their inability to swim well they do wacky things in the water. If you disturb them they’ll start spinning around and move in random directions. This makes them amusing for recreational divers who spot them in Washington waters and for aquarists who take care of them in Seattle, Seaside and Newport. They are notoriously amusing for those who handle them and feed them.

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