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darkblotched rockfish

The darkblotched rockfish (Sebastes crameri) is also referred to as blackblotched rockfish, blackmouth rockfish, and blotchie in British Columbia, among other names. Sebastes crameri is named after Frank Cramer, a Stanford University rockfish biologist from the 1800s.

In nature, the juveniles appear white with a dark blotch on the gill cover. They have 4-5 wide vertical bars of brown or reddish brown; one bar of which is on the head, while the others extend down from the dorsal fin almost to the belly. The underwater adults have brown bars and are white or pink in color, turning pink to orange with 3-5 dark saddle marks after capture. Jet black blotches may be present on some individuals. The similar sharpchin rockfish is distinguished from the darkblotched rockfish by having a distinct "<" mark under their eyes, and thinner short vertical bars that extend barely below the lateral line. Darkblotched rockfish have been recorded as large as 23.2 in. (58 cm) and aged to 105 years.

The range of the darkblotched rockfish extends from the eastern Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands to southern California. They are most abundant from British Columbia to central California. Although most darkblotched rockfish live at depths ranging from 462 ft. to 693 ft. (140-210 m), they have been found at depths between 83 ft. and 2,982 ft. (25-904 m). Young darkblotched rockfish are found at shallower depths than many other rockfishes, often perching on the highest bit of available benthic habitat structure.  They have also been seen around the bottoms of deepwater oil platforms. As they age this species moves to deeper depths, and are typically found resting on mud near boulders or cobble, not usually rising above the seafloor. They feed mainly in the midwater on krill, gammarid, amphipods, copepods, salps, and sometimes octopi and other fishes. The juvenile darkblotched rockfish are prey to albacore and chinook salmon.

Depending on the geographic location, the maturity age and size of both sexes of darkblotched rockfish vary. Males grow to maximum length faster than females, while females are larger at any given age after maturity and may live longer than males. Generally, darkblotched rockfish mate between August and December, with egg fertilization occurring from October to March. Females produce about 20,000 to 610,000 eggs, and release the larvae in one batch between November and April (as late as June off British Columbia).

While they are sometimes taken off Alaska, this species is most important to the commercial trawl fisheries between British Columbia and northern California, and are considered overfished. They are mainly the bycatch of other rockfishes off Washington and Oregon.  Darkblotched rockfish are insignificant as a recreational catch.

Adapted from Love, M. 2002 Sebastes crameri, p. 158-159. In M. S. Love, M. Yoklavich, and L. Thorsteinson, The rockfishes of the northeast Pacific. Univ. California Press.

darkblotched rockfish

AFSC Rockfish Guide