Welcome back to my continuing series on Rockfish of the Pacific Northwest. Today we look at one of the more colourful and photogenic species the China Rockfish (Sebastes nebulosus).
These rockfish have a distinctive appearance from other rockfish. Their colouration is a dark blue or black body crossed by a patchy but obvious yellow stripe that extends from around the third dorsal spine down, and then along the lateral line. In addition, the body may be covered with small whitish or yellowish spots. China Rockfish only grow to about 45 cm. (18 inches). As with most rockfish their dorsal spines can be quite venomous but these fish have a very mild venom compared to the other members of their family.
These rockfish are found in the Eastern Pacific from southeast Alaska to Redondo Beach and San Miguel Island, Southern California, USA. Adults are solitary and territorial, preferring rocky outcroppings with boulder fields and crevices. Their territories are apparently quite small. A study conducted around Vancouver Island found that China's rarely move outside a 10 meter area.
They feed on benthic organisms, including brittle stars, chitons, and crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp. When confronted with an intruder, the fish erects its spines and try to look larger.
China rockfish are not as shy as other members of the rockfish family. These fish tend to stay motionless when approached by photographers and divers. They present a great photographic opportunity and almost pose for an image. Although all fish have a "bubble" or personal space, most China rockfish are inquisitive and may swim towards you rather than immediately turning or swimming away. Composing a great image with a China rockfish in frame can be very striking if shot around Northern Vancouver Island or the Queen Charlotte Islands, as dive sites such as Dillon Rock or Seven Tree Island in Port Hardy have lush marine reefs and colourful backdrops to shoot these beautiful rockfish.
Thanks for reading.
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