The Splitnose Rockfish: A Quick Guide
The splitnose rockfish is a distinctive looking aquatic creature. It has a notched upper jaw and large knobs on either side of its face. The adult specimen is pink with orange and red patches, and is also covered with tiny brown speckles.
The splitnose rockfish is part of larger family of rockfish. The scientific name for rockfish, Sebastes, comes from the Greek word for “magnificent.” There are over 100 known species of rockfish.
There are at least 70 different types of rockfish in the northwest Pacific Ocean alone. Most of the world’s rockfish live in the Pacific Ocean; they are found all the way from the waters of Baja California to Prince William Sound.
The female splitnose rockfish lays thousands of eggs at once to ensure survival of the species. In general, rockfish eggs have a high mortality rate. Those who survive, however, can live a very, very long life. In fact splitnoses over 80 years old have been found. Females typically become larger than males, though males reach their full size sooner than females. They reach their maximum size somewhere around twenty years. The longest one recorded so far was sixteen inches long.
More About the Splitnose Rockfish
Not surprisingly, rockfish love to hide among stacks of rocks deep under the ocean’s surface. They don’t need much room in their aquatic caves, and prefer cramped quarters where they are relatively safe from predators.
Splitnose rockfish are easy to confuse with their rockfish kin. Along with several other species of Pacific rockfish, splitnoses are fished and sold to restaurants and stores, where they are marketed as cod and snapper. They are only occasionally fished recreationally, but because of commercial fishing, numbers have plummeted and strict limits now exist for most species of rockfish in the Pacific.
Rockfish are a favorite subject of study among marine scientists. With such an array of species that possess so many unique qualities, rockfish are utterly fascinating to many people. Rockfish in general are some of the longest living fish, as well as the most adaptable. They begin their lives near the water’s surface and gradually move lower as they mature.
Important genetically and biologically, this unique group of fish doesn’t seem to have hybridized even though many types of rockfish share the same breeding grounds. Often, such similar creatures will mate with one another, creating new blended species.
The splitnose rockfish goes by many names, depending on whom you ask. Some of them are:
- Channel cod
- Red rock cod
- Lobe-jawed rockfish
Rockfish in Legend
The rockfish has long been a part of life for the people of the Pacific Northwest. The Tlingit Indians have several stories involving rockfish as a part of their folklore. One such story follows.
A man’s wife is kidnapped by a killer whale and taken into the sea. The man, of course, lifts up the edge of the ocean and walks under in search of his wife. When he comes across a large group of very pale fish, he can’t help but paint them red in hopes of making them happy. It must have worked because they have been red ever since.