Known for my bright yellow-orange color (like a canary, get it?), I live in the deep waters of the eastern Pacific ocean. As a juvenile, I liked to hang out in shallower waters around rocky reefs, kelp canopies and artificial structures like oil platforms. Now that I’m bigger and stronger, I can explore rocky bottoms and outcrops in deeper waters.
We were such a popular species among fishermen that our numbers declined over time. I guess that’s what happens when you’re so tasty—we were overfished. Not only are we prone to overfishing, but we’re also often caught up as bycatch in other fisheries like salmon. We were officially declared “overfished” in 2000, but smart management helped our numbers! In 2015, we were declared “rebuilt,” meaning there are enough of us to maintain a healthy population.
Did You Know?
Because we are slow growing, long-lived and late to mature, it’s pretty difficult for us to rebuild our stocks after our numbers get low. In California, it’s illegal to keep us if you catch us. If you catch us, you have to immediately return us to the water if you catch us so we have the best chance of survival.
We’re a bit unusual when it comes to our young. Most fish will “broadcast spawn,” meaning fertilization of embryos happens in the water column. We like to keep our young a little closer—fertilization and embryo development is internal, not external, and females give birth to larval young. We also produce many more eggs than other rockfish species—one female can produce between 260,000 and 1.9 million eggs! Not to brag, but as far as fish mothers go, we’re pretty cool.