Silvergray Rockfish

Silvergray Rockfish, Sebastes brevispinis

The Silvergray Rockfish, Sebastes brevispinis, whose common Spanish name is rocote frios y grise, 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 Silvergray Rockfish have narrow elongated bodies with a depth that is 29 to 33% of standard length. They are streamlined and lack head spines. They have a dark gray, green or brown, silvery or tan coloration on their sides and tinges of red ventrally. They are uniform in color without any spotting or blotches. Their head is rather long with large eyes set high on the head and a large terminal mouth. The tip of their lower jaw has a symphyseal knob. Their anal fin has 3 spines and 7 or 8 rays; their caudal fin is slightly indented to concave; their dorsal fin has 13 spines and 13 to 17 rays; their pectoral fins have 16 to 18 rays; and they have 33 to 36 gill rakers. Their body is covered with scales.

The Silvergray Rockfish are a schooling species found very close to heavy structures from shallow coastal waters to depths up to 1,900 feet. They are found mixed in with Canary and Yellowtail Rockfish. They reach a maximum length of 74 cm (29 inches), with females being larger than males. Reproduction is oviparous with the release of pelagic eggs. They have a lifespan of up to eighty-two years.

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

The Silvergray Rockfish can be confused with the Bocaccio, Sebastes paucispinis (reddish color; larger mouth; spotting; no symphyseal knob), the Chilipepper, Sebastes goodei (pink with blotches; small mouth; narrower body) and the Shortbelly Rockfish, Sebastes jordani (heavily saddled; small mouth; large eyes; forked tail; body more streamlined).

The Silvergray Rockfish are a strong component of the Northwest United States Coastal commercial fishery taken predominately by bottom trawls or hook and line. They are a trawl by-catch and a large percentage of the fish are destroyed due to parasite contamination. They are marketed fresh or frozen. They are an important component of the recreational catch in the northern part of their range.

 Silvergray Rockfish, Sebastes brevispinis. Fish caught at Ejido Eréndira, Baja California, February 2015. Photo and identifications courtesy of Chris Wheaton.Silvergray Rockfish, Sebastes brevispinis. Fish caught from coastal waters off Sikta, AK, August 2014. Catch, photo and identification courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Fullerton, CA.