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Bottomfish Identification: Rockfish

Aurora Rockfish
Sebastes aurora

Commonly caught off the Washington coast by commercial harvesters using otter-trawls and longline gear.  Recreational harvest within Puget Sound has been closed.   See the Sportfishing Regulation Pamphlet.

Description: Aurora rockfish are rose-red to pale pink after capture, resembling both splitnose and chameleon rockfishes.  Underwater they are white with pale pink to red saddles and blotches on their backs and are silvery on their sides and ventral surface. This species has small lobes that project from the anterior part of the upper jaw, but no prominent upper jaw projections.  They have 13 dorsal spines, 12-14 soft dorsal rays, and 5-6 soft anal rays. They have a long second anal fin spine.  Aurora rockfish also have 24-28 gill rakers on the first gill arch.

Maximum Size: To 41 cm (16 in) in length.

Maximum Age: 75 years old.

Range/Habitat: Aurora rockfish are found from Langara Island, British Columbia, to Cedros Island, Baja California. They are a deep water slope species found between 81 and 768 m (267-2,520 ft), and are most abundant from 300 to 500 m (990-1,650 ft).  This species has been found over both hard and soft substrates.


  • Kramer, D. E., and V.M.  O'Connell, 1995. Guide to northeast Pacific rockfishes: genera Sebastes and Sebastolobus. Alaska Sea Grant College Program, University of Alaska.
  • Love, M. S., M. Yoklavich, and L. Thorsteinson, 2002. The rockfishes of the northeast Pacific. University of California Press.