Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata: Rockfishes & Greenling

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Class Osteichthyes, Order Scorpaeniformes
  Family Cottidae
Nautichthys oculofasciatus Orthonopias triacis Scorpaenichthys marmoratus
Nautichthys oculofasciatus Orthonopias
triacis
Scorpaenichthys marmoratus
  Family Scorpaenidae 
Sebastes atrovirens
Sebastes auriculatus Sebastes carnatus Sebastes caurinus Sebastes chrysomelas Sebastes flavidus Sebastes melanops Sebastes mystinus
Sebastes atrovirens Sebastes auriculatus Sebastes carnatus Sebastes caurinus Sebastes chrysomelas Sebastes
flavidus
Sebastes melanops Sebastes mystinus
Sebastes nebulosus Sebastes pinniger Sebastes serranoides Sebastes serriceps Sebastes miniatus juvenile rockfish
Sebastes nebulosus Sebastes pinniger Sebastes serranoides Sebastes serriceps Sebastes miniatus juvenile
rockfish
  Family Hexagrammidae 
Hexagrammos decagrammus Ophiodon elongatus Oxylebius pictus
Hexagrammos
decagrammus
Ophiodon elongatus Oxylebius
pictus












Orthonopias triacis
Orthonopias triacis  Starks & Mann, 1911
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Cottidae

Snubnose sculpin, 8-10 cm; large head tapering to tail; color variable (can change to match background) usually mottled reds, oranges, whites, browns, lavenders; scales along lateral line have thread-like extensions. 

Abundant, benthic on or near rocky substrate; darts quickly from perch to perch if disturbed; territorial & probably homes to specific site if displaced.

Geogr. Range: central California to northern Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: there are many sculpins in central California; most require close examination to distinguish.

Image: Lagenicella (top cntr.)

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Scorpaenichthys marmoratus
Scorpaenichthys marmoratus  (Ayres, 1854)
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Cottidae

Large head tapering to tail, 30-65 cm; no scales; red, brown or green with dark mottling; prominent pair of cirri behind eyes; single flap-like cirrus at tip of snout.

Common, perched on rocky substrate, often camouflaged in algae. Feeds on invertebrates; can remove and swallow young abalone whole; males guard egg masses which are laced with tetrodotoxin. Lifespan to 13 yr.

Geogr. Range: Sitka Alaska to Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: this is the largest sculpin in Monterey region.

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Nautichthys oculofasciatus Nautichthys oculofasciatus  (Girard, 1858)
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Cottidae

Sailfin sculpin, 15-20 cm; anterior dorsal fin very tall, 2nd dorsal fin long & ruffled; black band runs through eye.

Uncommon, perched on or near rocky substrate; nocturnal.

Geogr. Range: Alaska to southern California but uncommon south of Puget Sound.
Synonyms:
Similar species: .

Image: Patiria miniata (rt. foreground)

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Sebastes atrovirens Sebastes atrovirens  (Jordan & Gilbert, 1880)
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

Kelp rockfish, 20-30 cm; olive brown to nearly white with varying degrees of dark mottling; head & dorsum usually darker. 

Abundant, demersal or hanging next to kelp plants, often in groups of several individuals; spines contain mild toxin. Lifespan to 25 yr; recruitment often stronger in El Niño years.

Geogr. Range: northern California to Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: Sebastes mystinus has a similar pattern of mottling, but is blue rather olive brown. Sebastes melanops is mottled dark gray with light gray all along lateral line.

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Sebastes auriculatus Sebastes auriculatus Girard, 1854
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

Brown rockfish, 30-56 cm; heavy-bodied, brownish with dark brown mottling; with dark spot on back edge of gill operculum.

Moderately common, demersal in rocky areas. Lifespan to 34 yr.

Geogr. Range: Alaska to Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: Sebastes atrovirens and Sebastes caurinus have similar markings but both lack dark spot on gill operculum; S. caurinus also has pale yellow horizontal bar behind eye.

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Sebastes melanops Sebastes melanops  Girard, 1856
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

Black rockfish, 40-69 cm; dark gray with light gray along whole length of lateral line; mouth extends back beyond posterior edge of eye; posterior edge of anal fin rounded, not straight.

Common, in shallower regions of kelp forest in midwater; often in groups. Lifespan to 50 yr.

Geogr. Range: Aleutian Islands to southern California
Synonyms:
Similar species: Sebastes mystinus lacks light area along lateral line & has a smaller mouth. Sebastes atrovirens is mottled olive brown.

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Sebastes mystinus Sebastes mystinus  (Jordan & Gilbert, 1881)
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

Blue rockfish, 32-53 cm; blue-gray with dark speckling; no obvious light area along lateral line; mouth smaller not extending beyond posterior edge of eye, trailing edge of anal fin straight, not rounded. 

Abundant in water column throughout kelp forest depths; only schooling rockfish in Monterey kelp forests. Lifespan to 44 yr.

Geogr. Range: SE Alaska to Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: Sebastes melanops has a light area along its lateral line & has a larger mouth.

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Sebastes chrysomelas Sebastes chrysomelas  (Jordan & Gilbert, 1881)
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

Black & yellow rockfish, 20-39 cm; conspicuous black and yellow markings across body, with very irregular clear area along posterior two-thirds of lateral line.

Common, in shallower depths; demersal, usually perched in crevices or on rocks; solitary & territorial. Lifespan 20-30 yr.

Geogr. Range: Cape Blanco Oregon to Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: Sebastes carnatus is nearly identical except for colors; may be be different morphs of same species.

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Sebastes nebulosus Sebastes nebulosus  Ayres, 1854
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

China rockfish, 30-45 cm; dark blue-brown with yellow stripe along lateral line that arches across top of body near front of dorsal fin; numerous yellow and white splotches & speckles.

Uncommon, demersal in rocky areas. Solitary & territorial. Lifespan to 79 yr.

Geogr. Range: Alaska to southern California
Synonyms:
Similar species: Sebastes chrysomelas lacks the clear yellow stripe across dorsal fin & down lateral line

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Sebastes serriceps
Sebastes serriceps  (Jordan & Gilbert, 1880)
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

Treefish, 35-41 cm; yellow to yellow-green body with 5-6  dark vertical bars, 2 oblique bars radiate back from eye; lips pinkish-red.

Uncommon, in rocky areas; nocturnal or crepuscular; often in crevices during daylight hours.  Solitary & probably territorial. Lifespan to 23 yr.

Geogr. Range: San Francisco  to northern Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: yellow background color distinguishes this rockfish from others with wide dark vertical bars.

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Sebastes carnatus Sebastes carnatus  (Jordan & Gilbert, 1880)
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

Gopher rockfish, 30-42 cm; golden brown & cream markings across body, irregular light patches along posterior two-thirds of lateral line.

Common, in deeper depths at outer edges of kelp; demersal, usually perched in crevices or on rocks; solitary & territorial. Lifespan 20-30 yr.

Geogr. Range: Cape Blanco Oregon to Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: Sebastes chrysomelas is nearly identical except for colors; may be different morphs of same species.

Image: Astrangia (lower left), Phidolopora (upper rt.), Celleporina (top cntr., lower rt.)

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Sebastes caurinus Sebastes caurinus  (Richardson, 1845)
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

Copper rockfish, 30-66 cm; deep-bodied, golden brown & cream markings with distinct sharp-edged rectangular clear area along posterior two-thirds of lateral line & horizontal pale yellow bar behind eye.

Moderately common, in deeper depths at outer edges of kelp. Lifespan to 50 yr.

Geogr. Range: British Columbia to southern California
Synonyms:
Similar species: Sebastes carnatus is somewhat slimmer and lacks distinct clear strip along posterior lateral line; lacks yellow bar behind eye. Sebastes auriculatus is darker brown, has a dark spot at the posterior edge of its gill operculum, and lacks yellow bar behind eye.

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Sebastes pinniger
Sebastes pinniger  (Gil, 1864)
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

Canary rockfish, 60-76 cm; adults mottled bright orange to yellowish orange over grayish background with thin white stripe along lateral line from gill operculum to tail.  Juveniles (photo) with dark spot at posterior end of first dorsal fin.  Leading edge of pelvic fins white.

Adults uncommon at diving depths, juveniles seasonally common in shallower areas, but move deeper as they grow.  Lifespan to 84 yr.

Geogr. Range: Southeast Alaska to northern Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: light bar along lateral line of Sebastes caurinus is broader & stops well short of gill operculum.  Adult vermilion rockfish (S. miniatus) are usually  darker red (also deeper); juvenile vermilions are mottled dk. red and gray.

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Sebastes miniatus Sebastes miniatus  (Jordan & Gilbert, 1880)
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

Vermillion rockfish, 50-76 cm; heavy bodied, bright red to orange-red often with gray or black mottling, thin pale stripe along lateral line; ventral fins often with dark edges; juveniles with more dark mottling & red fins with dark edges.

Juveniles sometimes frequent in kelp forests in summer, but large adults generally live in deeper water.  Mostly benthic near rocky reefs.  Lifespan to 60 yr.

Geogr. Range: Alaska to central Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: Adult canary rockfish (S. pinniger) more orange over gray or white than red; usually lack dark edges on ventral fins.

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Sebastes serranoides Sebastes serranoides  (Eigenmann & Eigenmann, 1890)
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

Olive rockfish, 40-61 cm; streamlined profile lacking spines on head; dark brown or brownish green above lateral line broken by large irregular white spots; belly pale; fins and tail olive-yellow; anal fin with 9 soft rays (last one double).

Moderately common; usually solitary up in water column well above bottom near edges of kelp forest. Lifespan 30 yr.

Geogr. Range: southern Oregon to Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: Sebastes flavidus appears very similar, but adults usually occur offshore in deeper water; scales have red-brown flecks lacking in S. serranoides, fins are generally yellower.

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Sebastes flavidus Sebastes flavidus  (Ayres, 1862)
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

Yellowtail rockfish, 40-68 cm; streamlined profile, dark brown or greenish brown above lateral line broken by large irregular white patches; tan-yellow below; fins and tail yellow; scales with red-brown flecks; anal fin with 8 soft rays (last one double).

Uncommon in kelp forests, more often in schools well offshore from kelp & in deeper water. Lifespan 64 yr.

Geogr. Range: Aleutian Islands to San Diego
Synonyms:
Similar species: Sebastes serranoides is very similar in appearance but lacks red-brown flecks on scales & its fins are less yellow; adults occur more frequently in kelp forest depths than S. flavidus.

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juvenile rockfish Juvenile Rockfish
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Scorpaenidae

Variously colored, often in large groups in water column within borders of kelp forest, especially in spring & summer. Prey for many adult fishes (including other rockfishes).  

Geogr. Range:
Synonyms:
Similar species:

Image:
  individual in photo is either Sebastes carnatus, S. chrysomelas or S. atrovirens.

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Ophiodon elongatus Ophiodon elongatus  Girard, 1854
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Hexagrammidae

Ling cod, to 180 cm; elongate body bluish-gray with brown spots; large mouth full of sharp needle-like teeth.

Moderately common, but sporadic; benthic, usually solitary. Males guard egg masses. Voracious predators, mostly on fish, but also octopus & other invertebrates. Lifespan to 20 yr.

Geogr. Range: Alaska to northern Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species:

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Hexagrammos decagrammus Hexagrammos decagrammus  (Pallas, 1810)
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Hexagrammidae

Kelp greenling, 25-45 cm with 5 lateral lines; females yellowish-tan to light brown with many dark red speckles; males (inset) tan to pale with blue spots surrounded by smaller red spots on head & forebody.  Large pectoral fins.

Moderately common, on rocky substrate in and around kelp forests.

Geogr. Range: Aleutian Islands to southern California
Synonyms:
Similar species: rock greenling Hexagrammos lagocephalus has bushy cirri above eyes & distinct light bands that radiate backward from eyes; its color varies from olive brown to red with light blotches.

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Oxylebius pictus
Oxylebius pictus  Gill, 1862
Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Infraphylum Gnathostomata, Class Osteichthyes, Subclass Actinopterygii, Order Scorpaeniformes, Family Hexagrammidae

Painted greenling, 15-25 cm; 5-7 red-brown vertical bars; single lateral line; pointed snout with small mouth.

Common, benthic in rocky areas.  Males guard egg masses aggressively. Lifespan to 8 yr.

Geogr. Range: Alaska to Baja
Synonyms:
Similar species: smallest greenling in Monterey region. Few other local fish have vertical bars along body (Sebastes serriceps is yellow & black & occurs in kelp forests; Sebastes rubrivinctus is red-orange & white, but live in deeper water).

Image: Crisia (top left, bottom rt.), Phidolopora (top cntr.), Corynactis (top rt. across cntr. & middle left), Distaplia? (purple below head)

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Page created by J.M. Watanabe
All images copyright James Watanabe unless otherwise indicated
Contact:  watanabe_at_stanford_dot_edu                                                                                                                                   Last  update: 10 October 2009