Longspine thornyhead rockfish (Sebastolobus altivelis)

Longspine rockfish
Longspine thornyhead rockfish
Category: Fish
Related species groups: Rockfish

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

Description and Range

Physical description

When viewed underwater, adult longspine thornyhead have orange or orange-red bodies, often with large white patches and some dark stippling, and fins that have some black on them. Once captured, they are red with some black on the fins and a mostly black gill chamber. They are characterized by a thorny spine across their cheek. Underwater they appear similar to shortspine thornyheads and are distinguished by an elongated third dorsal spine, a mostly black gill chamber, and usually 15 dorsal spines.

Longspine thornyhead rockfish can grow up to 39 cm (15 in) in length. Maximum age is at least 45 years.

Geographic range

Longspine thornyhead range from the western Gulf of Alaska to Cabo San Lucas, southern Baja California. This species of thornyhead is found in relatively deep water, from 201 to 1,756 m (663-5,795 ft), but are most common between 500 and 1,300 m (1,815-4,290 ft). They live on mud bottoms in small depressions or among small rocks and sponges.


Rules and seasons

Recreational harvest within Puget Sound has been closed.