[Ocean Oasis Field Guide] Satellite image of the Baja California peninsula and Gulf of California See Spanish version

Mugil cephalus and Chaenomugil proboscidens
Mullet, Lisa

Family: MUGILIDAE (Mullets)


Mugil cephalus and Chaenomugil proboscidens are found in the Gulf of California. They have moderately elongated bodies with a rounded snout and small mouths; two widely spaced dorsal fins, and a forked caudal fin. They are silvery gray in color with dark backs. They can be almost a meter long—about 3 feet.

Range and Habitat

The range of mullets extends from California to South America; the family is found in all temperate and tropical seas. They live over shallow sandy bottoms, sometimes just outside the surf line, down to depths of 120 meters (400 feet).

Natural History

Mullets' diet consists of algae, detritus, fish eggs, and plankton. They usually travel in schools that may contain several hundred fish, and are often found near the surface where they can be taken with cast nets. Fisherman uses them as bait to catch other bigger fish, but mullets are also commercially important as food. In Southeast Asia they are frequently cultivated in ponds.

With the silvery coloration with dark backs they exhibit protective counter shading. They are dark when seen from above, blending with the bottom below them, and are silvery when seen from below, almost disappearing against the bright light from above.

Text by Patricia Beller

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