How long do they live? Quillback rockfish can live to the ripe old ages of 90 – 95 years, that we know of [1].

Where are they found? When Quillback rockfish are young they hang out in water depths of about 80 feet, but as they age they go deeper and have been found nearly 900 feet deep [2]. They can be found from the Gulf of Alaska to southern California [2].

What do they eatThis species is a bottom feeder and enjoys a diet of shrimp, crab, and anything else small that likes to hang out on the ocean floor [2].

What do they look like? Quillback rockfish are unique in that they have orange to brownish blotches covering their bodies. Figure 1 shows off the long spines on this rockfish.

Figure 1. The Quillback rockfish with spines out.
Figure 2. And spines down.

How do they reproduce? Quillback rockfish mature at different rates depending on where they are located. In British Columbia they are sexually mature between 5 and 22 years of age. In California they reach sexual maturity by 7 years of age [2]. They are viviparous and release larvae into the surrounding water. No word on reproductive senescence though.

How do scientists know how old they are? Mark and tag estimates are predominantly used [1], but bomb dated radiocarbon analysis has confirmed those estimates. Bomb carbon dating is performed on otolith annuli of dead fish [3].

So what are we lacking? I’m not a trained writer (if you haven’t already guessed that) and I get a little lazy sometimes. So, I’m just going to place this in bullet point formatting:

  • Reproductive senescence information.
  • The conservation status since they are not evaluated on the IUCN Red List.
  • Population numbers of both adults and juveniles.
  • Nuclear genome data is needed.
  • There is mitochondrial genome information available on the NCBI Nucleotide database.

Conservation status: Not evaluated by the IUCN.


  1. Kristen Munk, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Mark Tag and Age Lab. PO Box 25526, Juneau, AK 99802, USA.
  2. Love, Milton S., Mary Yoklavich, and Lyman K. Thorsteinson. The rockfishes of the northeast Pacific. Pages 201-202. Univ of California Press, 2002.
  3. Kerr, Lisa A., et al. “Age validation of quillback rockfish (Sebastes maliger) using bomb radiocarbon.” Fishery Bulletin 103.1 (2005): 97-107.