Sebastes paucispinis Ayres, 1854, California.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Rock salmon; Spanish: Rocote bocaccio.
Grows to 37.4 in (95 cm) maximum length. Bocaccios are one of the most elongate rockfishes in California and one of the least spiny rockfishes. They tend to be reddish brown on the dorsal surface, pink or brown on the flanks, and silver ventrally. Juveniles and small adults are reddish brown with dark spots.
Widespread from Alaska to Baja California. They are most abundant from British Columbia to Washington.
Juveniles typically are collected in shallow waters under drifting kelp mats that have broken free. Adults form benthic aggregations over hard and rocky bottoms at depths ranging from 164 to 984 ft (50–300 m).
Bocaccios are a mobile rockfish. Tagged juveniles often are recaptured 60–80 mi (97–129 km) away from their point of origin. As with many other scorpaenoids, the bocaccio is venomous, but the venom is comparatively weak (although local fishermen suggest that they are the most venomous of the rockfishes).
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Juveniles feed on small fishes, particularly other rockfishes. Adults feed on rockfishes, sablefishes (Anoplopomatidae), anchovies (Engraulidae), and squids. Eaten by larger fishes and pinnipeds.
As with all sebastids, the bocaccio is viviparous (live bearing). Large females can produce more than two million eggs per season, which are released as larvae in two or more batches. Rockfish larvae remain in the upper 263 ft (80 m) of the water column for several months. This stage is followed by a pelagic juvenile stage that lasts one to several months, after which the larvae settle.
The bocaccio is the only Critically Endangered scorpaenoid. This listing suggests that the population size has decreased by more than 80% in about the last ten years of the twentieth century, owing to the pressure of overfishing and the low minimum population doubling time, which is longer than 14 years.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
As their population decline suggests, bocaccios traditionally have been a very important commercial and recreational food fish in the eastern Pacific. When they were more abundant, they represented more than 14% of the total marine recreational catch of California.
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