• Shortraker Rockfish

    Why study rockfish?

    Many rockfish species are fished both commercially and for sport. Rockfish are especially sensitive to overfishing because they grow and mature slowly and begin to reproduce late in life compared to many other fish. To understand what makes a healthy rockfish population fishery scientists need to understand their life history.

    What do rockfish look like?

    Copper, darkblotched, dusky, rosethorn, silvergray, vermillion and yelloweye - these are just a few of more than 60 species of rockfish that live along the west coast from Mexico to Alaska. As their names suggest, rockfish are some of the most colorful fish in Alaska waters. Rockfish are in the same family as scorpion fish and lionfish, both famous for their venomous spines. But don't worry, the rockfish you'll find along our coast are not venomous. Still, be careful of their spines if you ever pick one up as they are sharp. These same spines are important to scientists as one of the key characteristics used to tell the different species apart! Can you identify different rockfish? Play the rockfish matching game.

  • Blackspotted Rockfish

    Where do rockfish live?

    Each species of rockfish has its preferred habitat. They may live in the water column, in a kelp forest or on a rocky outcropping deep in the sea. In addition, rockfish may be solitary or live in schools of hundreds of fish.

    How old do rockfish get?

    The oldest rockfish (a rougheye off Alaska) aged by AFSC scientists was nearly 200 years old! Most rockfish, however, live to be 30 to 60 years old. Scientists can tell how old a rockfish is by counting the rings on its otoliths (ear bones). A new layer of bone is added to the otolith each year, and these can be counted like the rings on a tree.