Black Rockfish - Sebastes melanops

Black Rockfish - Sebastes melanops

 View all Black Rockfish Images in the Pacific Marine Index

Black Rockfish (Sebastes melanopsare) are all-black, but turn a mottled gray colour on their sides with age, often nearing white. Juveniles are orange with a large black spot on their doral fin. These rockfish can grow up to 25 in. (65 cm.) in length and weigh up to 11 lbs. (5 kg). Black rockfish are slow-growing and extremely long-lived, specimens collected off of Alaska have been aged to 50 years old. These rockfish start to become sexually mature at 6 to 8 years of age. Black rockfish breed via internal fertilization, meaning that female members of the species store sperm until the development of the eggs. The phases between the start of the process and the end are separated by several months. The majority of the young are reared in late winter to early spring. Females produce between 125,000 and 1,200,000 eggs every breeding season.

Schools of adult Black rockfish often aggregate over rocky bottoms or in kelp forests near the waters surface. These habits that make them quite susceptible to targeted fishing, however these fish can be found all the way down to a depth of 1200 ft. (370 m). Juvenile Black rockfish are mostly pelagic but may be spotted lurking in the kelp and eel grass close to shore during spring before heading out to sea.

Black rockfish are quite shy commpared to some of the other members of the rockfish family. Photographing these reluctant fish can be a bit of challenge. These rockfishfish tend to school in large groups among the bull kelp forests however they have a large buffer zone when approached by underwater photographers. Black rockfish will dart quickly away from any diver getting to close.  One method to create a great shot is to have a second diver swim in to the school of fish and push the rockfish towards the photographer. As a photographer, remaining motionless and exhaling only a few bubbles or diving a rebeather will help create a striking image. Wide angle shots of black rockfish in large large schools under the kelp is a great way to portray the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and its inhabitants. Pacific Northwest kelp forests are numerous and schooling Black rockfish are pentyful along the coast line of British Columbia. Eastern Vancouver Island is one of the prime areas to capture great images of this fish, two of the best dive sites are either Albert Head just off of Victoria or 5 Fathom Rock in Port Hardy.