Tiger Rockfish (Sebastes nigrocinctus)

Category: Fish
Related species groups: Rockfish
Vulnerability to climate change (More details)


Description and Range

Physical description

Tiger Rockfish are known for having distinctive markings. They typically have five vertical bars ranging in color from red to purple, brown, and black on their body over a pink to white base color. Additionally. there are two bars radiating back from the eyes. Some Tigers will appear to have had the last two bars fused together.

Tiger Rockfish can be confused with Flag and Redbanded Rockfish. The latter two species will only have four, thicker bars, to the Tiger’s five. Flag and Redbanded will also have their bars reaching onto the head.

Tiger Rockfish can grow up to 61 cm (24 in) in length and 3.4 kg (7.5 lb), living for up to at least 116 years.

Geographic range

Tiger Rockfish can be found from Kodiak Island, AK to southern California in depths from 18 m (60 ft) to 298 m (984 ft). This is a reclusive species which is typically associated with highly complex rocky habitat and will usually only venture out of these crevices in darkness.

Climate vulnerability

Sensitivity to climate change


The main sensitivity of tiger rockfish to climate change is likely to stem from changes to their prey base. Warmer ocean conditions could lead to decreases in prey (e.g., zooplankton) for both juveniles and adults, prompting decreases in adult fecundity and juvenile survival. Additionally, nearshore habitat loss due to sea level rise could impact juvenile survival, as juveniles tend to use nearshore habitat as nursery and foraging area. Deepwater coral habitat, which many adult rockfish use, may also decrease due to acidification, further reducing available habitat. Decreased oxygen levels may have direct physiological effects on tiger rockfish, leading to higher levels of mortality across various life stages. Due to their long life cycles and generation times, adults may be able to persist through short term pulses of negative ocean conditions (e.g., years with warmer sea surface temperature), though conversely, their low productivity could make it difficult for populations to recover from climate-related declines.

Confidence: Moderate

Exposure to climate change


  • Increased ocean temperatures
  • Sea level rise
  • Declines in pH
  • Decreased oxygen
Confidence: Moderate


Rules and seasons

Recreational harvest within Puget Sound has been closed.

State record

7.50 lbs
James Wenban
Middle Bank
Date Caught
November 30, 1989

See all sportfish records


This species is identified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) under the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). SGCN-classified species include both those with and without legal protection status under the Federal or State Endangered Species programs, as well as game species with low populations. The WDFW SWAP is part of a nationwide effort by all 50 states and five U.S. territories to develop conservation action plans for fish, wildlife and their natural habitats—identifying opportunities for species' recovery before they are imperiled and more limited.
This species is identified as a Priority Species under WDFW's Priority Habitat and Species Program. Priority species require protective measures for their survival due to their population status, sensitivity to habitat alteration, and/or recreational, commercial, or tribal importance. The PHS program is the agency's main means of sharing fish and wildlife information with local governments, landowners, and others who use it to protect priority habitats for land use planning.