Shortbelly Rockfish

Shortbelly Rockfish, Sebastes jordani

The Shortbelly Rockfish, Sebastes jordani, whose common Spanish name is rocote pancita, 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 Shortbelly Rockfish have small and very thin bodies with a depth that is 23 to 27% of standard length. They range in color from red to reddish brown with darker saddles and numerous white spots and blotches on their head, back, and sides. Their coloration changes to a uniform pink or olive-pink post collection. The tips of their dorsal fins are white. Their head is long and features a long snout, disproportionately large eyes, and a mid-sized terminal mouth. They are somewhat unique in that the anus is located midway between their anal and pelvic fins. Their anal fin has 3 spines and 8 to 11 rays; their caudal fin is deeply forked; their dorsal fin has 13 spines and 13 to 16 rays; their pectoral fins have 16 to 22 rays; and they have 40 to 49 gill rakers. Their body is covered with scales.

The Shortbelly Rockfish are found in large migrating schools forming dense aggregations that move in unison in all portions of the water column at depths between 35 and 1610 feet. They are known as vertical migrators moving higher in the water column during the night to feed. They reach a maximum length of 35 cm (14 inches), with females being larger than males. They feed on zooplankton and krill. Reproduction is oviparous with each female releasing up to 50,000 pelagic eggs. They are a favorite prey of salmon, ling cod, various rockfish, fur seals and various sea birds. They have a lifespan of up to thirty-two years. Very little is known about their behavioral patterns.

In Mexican waters the Shortbelly Rockfish have a limited distribution being found from  from just south of Magdalena Bay northward along the central and northwest coasts of Baja.

The Shortbelly Rockfish is fairly easy to identify due to its narrow body profile and the unique location of the anus, midway between the anal and pelvic fins.

The Shortbelly Rockfish, although abundant, are not of interest to either commercial or recreational anglers due to their small stature.

Shortbelly Rockfish, Sebastes jordani. Fish from coastal waters off Point Loma, California, April 2008. Length: 15.5 cm (6.1 inches). Catch courtesy of Eddie Kisfaludy, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA. Fish identification courtesy of Dr. John Hyde, NOAA, La Jolla, CA.