Shortspine thornyhead (Sebastolobus alascanus)

Photo not available for this species
Category: Fish
Related species groups: Rockfish

Occasionally caught off the Washington coast by commercial harvesters using otter-trawls and longline gear.

Description and Range

Physical description

The body shape of the shortspine thornyhead is elongate with a large head. It has a strong spiny ridge across the cheek and 15 or more dorsal spines. The fifth dorsal spine is the longest. Underwater they are red or orange-red often with white patches on their gill covers, backs, sides and tips of the dorsal fin. After capture they are usually red or pink-red with white throats, sometimes with dusky patches and a dark blotch on at least the posterior part of the spiny dorsal fin. Pectoral fins are light colored with black bars. Shortspine thornyhead are distinguished from longspine thronyhead by the absence of the third elongate dorsal spine, strongly notched pectoral fins, and a mostly pale gill chamber. Longspine thornyheads have black pectoral fins. Broadfin thornyheads are also confused with the shortspine, but have a deeper body and their ventral pectoral rays are highly branched, where those of the shortspine are not.

Shortspine thornyhead can grow up to 80 cm (32 in) in length, and 9 kg (19.8 lbs) in weight. Maximum age is 100 years old.

Geographic range

Shortspine thornyhead range from the Seas of Okhotsk and Japan, Bering Sea, and Aleutian Islands to Isla Cedros, central Baja California. Small individuals are found in Puget Sound at water depths greater than 110 m (363 ft).


Rules and seasons

Recreational harvest within Puget Sound has been closed.