Flag Rockfish

Flag Rockfish, Sebastes rubrivinctus

The Flag Rockfish, Sebastes rubrivinctus, whose common Spanish name is rocote bandera, 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 Flag Rockfish have relatively narrow oblong-shaped bodies with a depth that is 31 to 35% of standard length. They are one of the most beautiful fish found on the West Coast. They have an overall white coloration with four orange-red bands on their body and two on their head, one extending down from their eyes and the other toward their upper jaw. The band at the front of their dorsal fin extends well into their gill cover. The background color transitions to off-white and the bands fade with the maturity of the fish. Their anal, caudal, and pelvic fins are red with white margins. Their heads are narrow with a pointed snout. Their anal fin has three spines (the second being stout and longer than the third) and six to eight rays; their caudal fin has a straight margin; their dorsal fin has 13 spines and 12 to 15 rays; their pectoral fins have 16 to 18 rays; and they have 26 to 30 gill rakers. Their body is covered with scales.

The Flag Rockfish reside over boulders, high-relief rocks, and cobblestone bottoms at depths between 200 and 660 feet. They reach a maximum length of 44 cm (17 inches) with unconfirmed reports that fish measuring 51 cm (20 inches) exist.  They are generally solitary individuals but can be found mixed in with Canary, Greenspotted, Rosy, Squarespot, Starry, and Vermilion Rockfish. They feed on fish, krill, octopi, and a variety of other small marine organisms. They have a lifespan of at least 38 years, however, very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Flag Rockfish has a limited distribution being found only from Cedros Island northward along the central and northwest coast of Baja.

The Flag Rockfish can be easily confused with the Redbanded Rockfish, Sebastes babcocki (band from dorsal fin terminates at gill cover; deeper body; rounded snout; anal, dorsal, and pelvic fins with thin black margin).

The Flag Rockfish are a minor component of the Southern California commercial fishery with most fish taken via gill nets and hook and line; a few are caught each year by recreational anglers as their brilliant colors make them a popular species. They are considered an excellent food fish.

Flag Rockfish (4)Flag Rockfish (5)
F302-Flag Rockfish (1)

Flag Rockfish, Sebastes rubrivinctus. Two fish provided by the commercial fishermen of the greater San Diego area, San Diego, California, August 2014. Length: 20 cm (7.9 inches) and 22 cm ((8.7 inches) respectfully.