What Kind of Rockfish?



Several divers spotted this unusual rockfish near Santa Rosa in the California Channel Islands, on the Aug 2008 REEF fish-counting trip. The fish was at Groovy Wall (a.k.a. East End Pinnacles), just southeast of the island. We spotted it around 9 am on the morning of 10 Aug.

 This image was made without flash. The fish was bright yellow with 3 black spots on the back.  The eyes were large and the head particularly rough-looking.  The fins looked a little ragged to me.  It had some rosy coloring on the top of the head, which you can see in the closeup.  I would estimate the length at 10 inches.  We weren't able to identify it from the books.

The fish was sitting in a moon sponge, situated in a crevice on the side of the wall, at about 50' depth.

 Many thanks in advance for help with the ID, or additional impressions from the divers!

 --Carl Gwinn


Fun find! When I first saw

Fun find! When I first saw it I thought Rosy or Starry, but not with those black spots.

What kind of rockfish?

You might want to pass these pics along to Milton Love at UCSB.  


Good luck, 


Ralph Imondi

From the Pros

Merit McCrea wrote:

> I'm forwarding this to Milton. Great picture! I'm thinking that what
ever it is, it's not a very good representative of its species. It
looks like anunusual color morph of a gopher rockfish (Sebastes
). Its general body shape and underlying pattern look like
that but the coloration is not usual at all. It looks like the dark
areas are part of the patterning rather than simple melanistic
splotches that are seen on other species sometimes (Bocaccio


And Milton Love wrote:

> Goodness, what an interesting fish. Assuming that the colors are true, that appears to be a xanthic-melanistic individual, meaning that the predominant color is yellow (or orange in some cases) with additional black pigmentation. Unusual coloration is occasional in rockfishes - the Monterey Bay Aquarium, for instance, has a yellow grass rockfish in its tank. Bocaccio occasionally come in a bright orange variation. 

And further,

> I sent this to John Butler at NMFS and he and I agree that it is likely a xanthic/melanistic black-and-yellow or perhaps gopher (no way to tell).


The term "xanthic-melanistic" has a great ring to it!  I hope that the other gopher and black-and-yellow rockfish are nice to this one!

rockfish@ channel Island

 On this dive I did log seeing both Gopher and Black and Yellow Rockfish. On this dive trip I didn't notice any Bocaccio; however, I am rather new at California fish ID. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to add my picture to this listing. Carl has the best angle. My pic I used the flash for a little more color. so I put in under Carl's yellow rockfish.


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