How long do they live? Well, the Shortraker rockfish, like other rockfish species, can live a really long time. We don’t really know how long because the very old ones tend to live in deep waters. Specimens have been caught that are 157 years old [1] and possibly 200 years old [2].

Where are they found? The cold, deep waters of the North Pacific from depths of only 80 feet to nearly 4,000 feet down [3].

What do they eat? Shortraker rockfish eat smaller fishes, octopi, squid, shrimp and crustaceans [4].

What do they look like? They get big. Up to 108 cm long and nearly 40 pounds [2]. They’re a red-orange color with very large mouths. See Figure 1.

largest_shortraker_rockfish_sebastes_borealis_ever_seen
Figure 1. Sadly, I found no pictures of the Shortraker rockfish alive.

How do they reproduce? The Shortraker rockfish reaches sexual maturity between 9 to 12 years of age and they mate and fertilize eggs internally like the other types of rockfish [5]. They give birth to live larvae.

How do scientists know how old they are? Tag and recapture, otoliths counts, and radioactive decay of otoliths [1].

So what are we lacking? There’s no information regarding the nuclear genome of Sebastes borealis on NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information). From what I can find, there’s very little information about the biology of these fish. I could find no information regarding when/if this species ages or information about reproductive senescence.

sebastes_borealis
Figure 2. Seen here, 7 Shortraker rockfish not in their natural habitat. They all wore the same outfit, how embarrassing.

Conservation status: Unknown. The Shortraker rockfish is federally managed [6]. A decrease in the amount being caught over the last 40 years indicate their population is decreasing. Side note: trawl fishing is terrible. Actually fishing is destroying the oceans and the amazing animals that depend on the ocean for survival. I’m sure there’s someone reading this right now and saying “but fish are so yummy.” Empathy sir or madame, empathy. Try some sometime. It may be the only word that allows our species to remain on this planet.

Please contact me if you have information regarding this species.

  1. Cailliet, G. M., et al. “Age determination and validation studies of marine fishes: do deep-dwellers live longer?.” Experimental gerontology 36.4 (2001): 739-764.
  2. Fisherman Catches Rockfish in Alaska That May Be 200-Years-Old. Time Magazine. July 2013. Accessed 9/11/2016.

  3. Fishbase.org. Sebastes borealisBarsukov, 1970. Shortraker rockfish. Accessed 9/11/2016
  4. Alaskan Fisheries Science Center. NOAA. http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/Rockfish-Game/description/shortraker.htm. Accessed 9/11/2016
  5. Orlov, A. M., and A. A. Abramov. “Age, Rate of Sexual Maturation, and Feeding of the Shortraker Rockfish, Sebastes borealis (Scorpaenidae).”
  6. California Department of Fish and Wildlife. List of Federally Managed Groundfish Species. https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Marine/Federal-Groundfish. Accessed 9/11/2016.