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China Rockfish Sebastes nebulosus


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China Rockfish
credit: Jeanne Luce

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Family: Scorpaenidae, Scorpionfishes view all from this family

Description The China rockfish (Sebastes nebulosus) is a rockfish of the Pacific coast found from Kachemak Bay in the northern Gulf of Alaska to Redondo Beach and San Nicolas Island in southern California.

The China rockfish has a distinctive appearance, with 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. Although the black-and-yellow rockfish is similar in appearance, the China rockfish has a continuous yellow band while the black-and-yellow has scattered patches of yellow. The body of the China Rockfish may be covered with small whitish or yellowish spots. Maximum reported size is 45 cm (18 inches).

Early life history is little-known; juveniles have been observed in shallow coastal water. Adults are solitary and territorial, preferring rocky outcrops with boulder fields and crevices. When confronted with an intruder, the fish erect its spines and try to look larger. The territories are apparently small, with a study off Vancouver Island finding Chinas moving only within 10 m (33 ft). They feed on benthic organisms, including brittle stars, chitons, and crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp.

Dimensions Up to 17" (43 cm).

Warning The dorsal and anal fins contain mildly venomous spines.

Habitat Ocean or bay shallows, Open ocean.

Range California, Northwest, Western Canada, Alaska.