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Sebastes is a genus of fish in the family Sebastidae (though some include this in Scorpaenidae), most of which have the common name of rockfish. A few are called ocean perch, sea perch or redfish instead. Most of the Sebastes species live in the north Pacific, although two (S. capensis and S. oculatus) live in the south Pacific/Atlantic and four (S. fasciatus, S. mentella, S. norvegicus and S. viviparus) live in the north Atlantic. The coast off South California is the area of highest rockfish diversity, with 56 species living in the Southern California Bight.

The fossil record of rockfish goes back to the Miocene, from California and Japan (although fossil otoliths from Belgium, "Sebastes" weileri, may push the record back as far as the Oligocene).

Rockfish are an important sport and commercial fish, and many species have been overfished. As a result seasons are tightly controlled in many areas. Sebastes are sometimes fraudulently substituted for the more expensive red snapper (L. campechanus).[3]


Rockfish range from the intertidal zone to almost 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) deep, usually living benthically on various substrates, often (as the name suggests) around rock outcrops. Some rockfish species are very long-lived, amongst the longest-living fish on earth, with several species known to surpass 100 years of age, and a maximum reported age of 205 years for S. aleutianus.[4]

Ecotoxicology, radioecology[edit]

Like all carnivores, these fish can bioaccumulate some pollutants or radionuclides such as cesium. Highly radioactive rockfish have been caught in a port near Fukushima city, Japan, not far from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, nearly two years after the nuclear disaster (ex: 107000 Bq/kg[5] (2013-02-12) ; 116000 Bq/kg[5] (2013-02-13) and 132000Bq/kg[5] (2013-02-13), respectively 1070, 1160 and 1320 times more than the maximum allowed by Japanese authorities (as updated on April 1, 2012[5]).


There are currently 107 recognized extant species in this genus:[6]

A rockfish in the Monterey Bay Aquarium.


  1. ^ Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera". Bulletins of American Paleontology 364: p.560. Retrieved 2007-12-25. 
  2. ^ "Scorpaeniformes". Paleobiology Database. Retrieved November 15, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Regulatory Fish Encyclopedia". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Cailliet, G.M., Andrews, A.H., Burton, E.J., Watters, D.L., Kline, D.E., Ferry-Graham, L.A. (2001). "Age determination and validation studies of marine fishes: do deep-dwellers live longer?". Exp. Gerontol. 36 (4–6): 739–764. doi:10.1016/S0531-5565(00)00239-4. PMID 11295512. 
  5. ^ a b c d TEPCO (2013), [Nuclide Analysis Results of Fish and Shellfish (The Ocean Area Within 20km Radius of Fukushima Daiichi NPS <1/13>] 2013-02-28 (accessed 2013-03-19)
  6. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2012). Species of Sebastes in FishBase. December 2012 version.
  • Milton S. Love, Mary Yoklavich, Lyman K. Thorsteinson, (2002), The Rockfishes of the Northeast Pacific, University of California Press

External links[edit]


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