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

Dermatolepis dermatolepis
Leather bass, Leatherback bass, Cabrilla de cuero

juvenile leather Bass partially hidden by the spines of a sea urchin, from Ocean Oasis, copyright 2000 CinemaCorp of the Californias

Juvenile leather bass often seek shelter among the long spines of the sea urchin, Centrostephanus coronatus, where their barred pattern serves as camouflage.



Adults have a distinctive color pattern of white blotches and small dark spots on a gray background; occasionally include several dark bars. Juveniles have dark bars on a white background. It is a large fish: about 0.9 meters (3 feet).

Range and Habitat

Its range extends from the Gulf of California, where it is rare, to Ecuador. It is abundant around Revillagigedo islands. The leather bass Inhabits rocky reefs and areas near the base of rocky faces.

Natural History

This species undergoes a sex change in which some of the females change into males and become larger than the males. The larger size of the females allows them to produce many eggs. They are voracious feeders and appear to breed in selected locations. This behavior makes them susceptible to over-fishing once their breeding areas become known.

Text by Patricia Beller
Photograph from Ocean Oasis © 2000 CinemaCorp of the Californias

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