Olive Rockfish

Olive Rockfish, Sebastes serranoides

The Olive Rockfish, Sebastes serranoides whose common Spanish name is rocote falsa cabrilla, 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 Olive Rockfish have narrow elongated bodies with a depth that is 29 – 33% of standard length. They are streamlined and lack head spines. They have a dark greenish-brown or brown coloration dorsally which gradually changes to lighter greenish-brown, brown or gray ventrally. They have greenish or light colored blotches just below their dorsal fin and greenish-yellow or drab fins. Their head is mid-sized with a small terminal mouth and medium sized beady eyes. Their anal fin has 3 spines and 8 to 10 rays; their caudal fin is square to slightly indented; their dorsal fin has 12 to 14 spines and 15 to 17 rays; their pectoral fins have 17 to 19 rays; and they have 29 to 36 gill rakers. Their body is covered with scales.

The Olive Rockfish are found as solitary individuals or in small groups throughout the water column and very close to structures from shallow coastal waters to depths up to 565 feet. They are often found mixed in with schools of Blue Rockfish and in the same habitat as Black-and-Yellow, Blue, Copper, Gopher, and Kelp Rockfish. They reach a maximum length of 61 cm (24 inches), with females being larger than males. They consume juvenile Rockfish and crustaceans. They are known to migrate vertically and spend nights on the ocean bottom. Reproduction is oviparous with each female releasing between 30,000 and 490,000 pelagic eggs annually. They have a lifespan of up to 30 years.

In Mexican waters the Olive Rockfish has a limited distribution being found only from Guerrero Negro northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja.

The Olive Rockfish is easily confused with the Yellowtail Rockfish, Sebastes flavidus (more deeply pigmented; brightly colored dark brown back with light blotches; bright yellow fins; yellow or green stripes on head; scales with orange-brown or brown flecks).

The Olive Rockfish is a minor component of the West Coast commercial fishery taken predominately by gillnets and by hook and line. They are an important component of the recreational catch off the coast of Southern California, however, populations have declined by approximately 80% in the last 40 years.

Olive Rockfish, Sebastes serranoides, juvenile. Fish caught from coastal waters off Long Beach, California, October 2015. Length: 21 cm (8.3 inches). Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Loreto, Baja California Sur. Identification reconfirmed by Milton Love, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA.

Olive Rockfish, Sebastes serranoides. Fish caught from coastal waters off Ejido Eréndira, Baja California, February 2015. Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Loreto, Baja California Sur.