Brown Rockfish - Sebastes auriculatus

 View all Brown Rockfish Images in the Pacific Marine Index

Brown Rockfish (Sebastes auriculatus) are characterized by a body colored by various shades of brown and a prominent dark patch on their gill cover. This relatively small rockfish species is overlaid with dark-brown, red-brown, or blackish mottling. The rear area of the gill cover has a prominent dark patch on it and this patch is what inspired its Latin name auriculatus, meaning "eared". This blotch may become faint in larger species. Stripes of red-brown, brown, or orange radiate back from the upper jaw and eyes. The brown rockfish are often mistaken for copper rockfish, who lack the dark patch on their gill cover and have lighter areas along their lateral line. Brown rockfish can grow up to 25 in. (56 cm), with the females being potentially larger than the males. Both sexes have similar growth rates and life spans, however browns are one of the shorter-lived rockfish species only living to about 35 years.

The range for the Brown Rockfish extends from Bahia San Hipolito in southern Baja California to Prince William Sound in the northern Gulf of Alaska. The densest populations are found in central and southern Puget Sound and from southern Baja California to Bodega Bay in northern California. Juveniles and sub adults are thought to have relatively small home ranges. They commonly live at shallow inshore depths of 400 ft. (120 m). The adults and sub adults are commonly found near the sea bottom, hovering above the sand or hiding in eelgrass or kelp.

Between 55,000 and 340,000 eggs are produced by female Brown Rockfish per season. In some regions the female can release multiple batches of larvae per season and in the Puget Sound the release season is between April and June.

Brown Rockfish are quite easily photographed and are fairly inquisitive when approached by divers unlike some other rockfish species. In some cases these fish will actually swim towards the camera rather than turn away. Because these fish tend to hover on the sandy bottom, trying to expose for both the fish and the background can be quite difficult. If the opportunity arises to get an image while a fish swimming over green kelp of resting on a remnants of a shipwreck it can produce a much more interesting image.

 

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