The longspine thornyhead (Sebastolobus altivelis)
have many similarities to the shortspine thornyhead in both
appearance and reproduction. Like the shortspine, longspines have a spiny ridge along their
cheeks and when seen underwater they have orange-red bodies, often with large white areas
and some dark spots. When out of water, longspines appear red, often with black on their fins and gill
chamber. The longspine's elongated third spine, 15 dorsal spines (usually), and mostly black
gill chamber distinguishes them from the shortspine. They can grow up to
15.5 in. (39 cm). Their Latin name altivelis means "high sail", which describes the tall
dorsal fin. As with the shortspine, those in the fishing industry refer to the
longspines as idiots, hooligans, scorpions, or spinycheeked rockfish, among others.
The longspine thornyhead can be found along the Pacific coast extending
from the western Gulf of Alaska to the southern area of Baja California. They are found living on mud floors in depths of 663 ft. to 5,795 ft.
(201-1,756 m); most commonly at 1,815 ft. to 4,290 ft. (500-1,300 m). This is
deeper than where shortspines are found, which is probably due to an
enzyme system better adapted for deepwater living. Warmer water
temperatures probably account for longspines being in deeper
water at the southern part of their range. Juveniles are found in the adult habitats
and are prey to other fish species and probably larger longspines.
Rather than giving birth to small fishes (viviparity), the longspines, like shortspines,
are oviparous, producing between 2,000 and 50,000 eggs per season, depending on the size of
the female. Spawning occurs from January to May, depending on location (earlier in southern
areas than in northern parts). This species can live up to 45 years or longer in age, with
most females maturing by 23 years.
The commercial fishery for thornyheads has grown over the last several decades,
especially along the Pacific coast due to the development of a North American
export market to Japan. Longspines are rarely caught in recreational fisheries.
Adapted from Love, M., and J. Butler. 2002 Sebastolobus altivelis, p. 117-118. In
M. S. Love, M. Yoklavich, and L. Thorsteinson, The rockfishes of the northeast Pacific. Univ. California Press.