Aurora Rockfish

Aurora Rockfish, Sebastes aurora

The Aurora Rockfish, Sebastes aurora, whose common Spanish name is sébaste aurore, is a species in the Rockfishes and Scorpionfishes or Scorpaenidae Family, known collectively as escorpiónes or lapóns in Mexico. Globally, there are one hundred twenty four species in the genus Sebastes, forty nine of which are found in Mexican waters, all in the Pacific.

The Aurora Rockfish have deep oblong-shaped bodies with a depth that is 36 – 40% of standard length. They vary in color ranging from a uniform pink to a uniform dark red with slightly darker colored fins also uniform in color. Their anal and dorsal fins have a wide dark red or purple band at their margins. There is a very dark yet subtle blotch on their gill cover. Their head is disproportionately deep. Their anal fin has 3 spines (the second being stout and longer than the third) and 7 or 8 rays; their caudal fin is straight to slightly concave; their dorsal fin has 13 spines and 12 or 13 rays; their pectoral fins have 17 to 19 rays. They have 24 to 28 gill rakers. Their body is covered with scales.

The Aurora Rockfish reside over both soft and hard bottoms at depths between 270 and 2,500 feet. They reach a maximum length of 41 cm (16 inches), with females being slightly larger than males. They feed on fish, krill, octopi, and a variety of other small marine organisms. They have a lifespan of at least seventy five years. This species is poorly is poortly studied and very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters they are found from Cedros Island northward along the northwest coast of Baja.

The Aurora Rockfish can be easily confused with the Chameleon Rockfish, Sebastes phillipsi (several large forward projecting spines on head; two to four spines under eyes; 36 – 39 gill rakers) and the Splitnose Rockfish, Sebastes diploproa (split beak; larger eyes; 32 – 37 gill rakers).

The Aurora Rockfish are a minor component of the Southern California commercial fishery with most taken via gill nets and a handful being caught each year by recreational anglers. They are not plentiful in Mexican waters. They are considered an excellent food fish.

Aurora Rockfish, Sebastes aurora. Fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater San Diego area, San Diego, CA. October 2014. Length: 33 cm (13 inches).