Opal Eye

OpalEye (Girella nigricans)

Contributed by TPERP Becky Wieder


Where to find them: From San Francisco in northern California to southern Baja California in Mexico

What do they eat: Algae, crustaceans, snails, insects and worms

Who eats them: Soupfin sharks, treefish, Brandt’s cormorants, California sea lions

Adaptations: Opaleyes are oval, perch-shaped fish. Juveniles are bright green on their back and silvery along the sides and belly. Adults have a gray-green or olive-green body and opal-blue-green eyes. They have one to three white or yellow spots on their back near the dorsal fin.

Reproduction: They spawn in April-June, shedding eggs into the water column.

What is their life like: Typically spend their juvenile stages in the intertidal. As they mature, they tend to stay in one tidepool. Then they will move into schools (sometimes with zebra perch).

Interesting Facts: The young often resemble wet feathers as they curl up to rest below the surface. Once they move into the tidepools, they lose their silvery color and take on an olive hue with white or yellow spots on their backs (this usually happens in about 24 hours).

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Perciformes
Family: Kyphosidae

Sources of Information:


Certainly More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast, Milton S. Love, (Reallybigpress.com, 2011)

Last revised 01-Sep-14