Fishes – Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest

 Fishes – Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest

 

Spiny Dogfish

Spiny DogFish

Spiny DogFish

Spiny Dogfish
Squalus acanthias Linnaeus, 1758
Etymology: Squalus =Shark;
acanthais = referring to the spines
Size: to 5,3′ to 20lbs
Range: Cosmopolitan: Bering Sea to the Baja California, Chile.
Habitat: in schools, feeding on fishes
Description: Slate grey to brown with grey-white underside; juveniles are spotted. A single spine is located at the front of each of the 2 dorsal fins.
Comments: Species is taken in commercial fisheries, originally for live oil, now as a food fish.  Spiny dogfish bear young rather that laying eggs.  Sometimes schools of these sharks surround divers.  Species is also found Chine to Korea, and in Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Sea.  There have been Canadian tag returns from Japan to Mexico.

 


 

Red Irish Lord

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Red Irish Lord
Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus, red irish lord sculpin, spotted irish lord
Size: 50 cm (20 in) long
Range: Alaska to California
Habitat: Intertidal to 50 m (165ft)
Description: So confident is the sculpin in its camouflage and its capacity for concealment, it is easily picked up by a diver.
Comments: A resourceful underwater photographer may turn this behaviour to advantage by placing a specimen on a suitable background.



Mosshead Warbonnet

Mosshead Warbonnet

Mosshead Warbonnet taken at Whytecliff Park

 

Mosshead Warbonnet taken at Whytecliff Park

Mosshead Warbonnet taken at Whytecliff Park

Mosshead Warbonnet
Chirolophis nugator, mosshead prickleback, ornamented blenny
Size: To 15cm (6 in) long
Range: Alaska to California
Habitat: Intertidal to 80m (265 ft)
Comments: This “crewcut” species often hides under rocks or in the empty casings of Giant Acorn Barnacle.  An organized group of beachcombers, suitably equipped, may find this fish by bailing out a tidal pool.
Select a pool in the lower intertidal zone that can be bailed out.  This method is eco-friendly, as the returning tide quickly restores the habitat.



Lingcod

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Lingcod
Ophiodon elongatus
Size: to 1.5m (5ft) long, 47.7kg (105lbs) wieght
Range: Alaska – Mexico
Habitat: Subtidal to 2,000m (6,600 ft)
Comments: Overfisihing has reduced virtually every population of this species, which appears tailor-made for a No-Take Marine Protected Area solution.  in recent years, concerned and motivated divers have been participating in lingcod egg-mass counts every February.



Blackeyed Goby

Black Eyed Gobby

Black-eyed Goby, Porteau Cove

Black-eyed Goby, Porteau Cove

 

Blackeyed Goby:
Coryphopterus nicholsi
Size: Rarely grows over 5 inches
Range: From Canada to midway down the Baja Peninsula
Habitat: From tide pools to water over 400 feet deep
Comments: This small bottom-dwelling fish can be identified by the it’s cream to white color and large black eyes.  They are brave little fish and often allow divers to approach within several inches before darting away for cover.  Around BC waters we find them around numerous rocky reef areas usually near the sand. They feed on tiny crustaceans, amphipods and mollusks.  All Blackeyed Goby’s start out as females and turn to males somewhere between 2 1/2 – 3 inches.



Northern Ronquil

Northern Ronquil, Kelvins Grove

Northern Ronquil, Kelvins Grove

 

Northern Ronquil, Kelvins Grove

Northern Ronquil, Kelvins Grove

Northern Ronquil:
Ronquilus jordani
Size: To 7 inches (18cm)
Range: Bering Sea to Monterey Bay, central California.
Habitat: In rock rubble on sand mud; 10 – 540 feet (3 -162 m)
Comments: Pale to dark orange-cream and grey.  Elongated body with orange band or spot below eyes.  Single, continuous dorsal fin.   Species quickly retreats into shelter when approached.


Plainfin Midshipman

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Plainfin Midshipman, midshipman, singing toadfish, singing fish, grunting fish
Porichthys notatus
Size: 38cm (15 in) long
Range: BC to Mexico
Habitat: Intertidal to 365 m (1,200 ft)
Comments: This widespread species commonly buries in soft substrates.  In summer, a protective adult male may be found under intertidal rocks guarding eggs or newborns, both of which are attached to the underside of the solid shelter.  At any time of year, huge numbers are an unwanted bycatch in commercial shrimp trawling activities.


Roughback Sculpin

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Roughback Sculpin

Roughback Sculpin

Roughback Sculpin
Chitonotus pugetensis
Size: to 23 cm (9in) long
Range: BC to Mexico
Habitat: Subtidal, 9 – 140 m (30 – 462 ft)
Comments: A common, nocturnally active sculpin, it thrives on sandy or silty bottoms.  Adult specimens are usually east to sex.  A male often displays bright or noticeable “eye caps” and always has a large anal papilla – an organ analogous to the penis.


Sailfin Sculpin

Sailfin Sculpin

Sailfin Sculpin

Sailfin Sculpin

Sailfin Sculpin

Sailfin Sculpin
Nautichthys oculofasciatus
Common Names: sailorfish, sailor fish
Size: 20 cm (8 in)
Distribution: Southern California to the Gulf of Alaska
Habitat: This sinuous swimmer is most abundant in shallow water where it cruises along rocky outcroppings  cliff faces or upon adjacent sandy areas. It may also live around jetties and pilings   A common sight for the night diver, the graceful Sailfin Scuplin swims over the bottom by holding still while moving its dorsal and anal fin rays independently, one after another in a continuous series of waves.

 


Longfin Gunnel

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Longfin Gunnel
Pholis clemensi
Size: to 12.5cm (5in) long
Range: Alaska to California
Habitat: Subtidal 7 – 64m (23 – 210ft)
Comments: This diminutive gunnel may dsplay either a bright or dull color variation.  Like many of the other elongate fishes covered here, the guarding parent coils around eggs and fans them with its pectoral fins.


Grunt Sculpin

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Grunt Sculpin grunt fish ,pigfish
Rhamphocottus richardsonii
Size: to 8.9 cm (3.7 inches) long
Range: Japan, Alaska to California
Habitat: Intertidal to 200m (660 ft)
Comments: This atypical sculpin is intimately associated with the giant acorn barnacle, specifically the empty casings in which it hides.  When showing its snout from a casing, it mimics a live quiescent barnacle.  When protruding its orange tail, it produces the effect of a feeding barnacle.


Pipe Fish

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Pipe Fish
Size:
Range:
Habitat:
Comments: 


Great Sculpin

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Great Sculpin
Myoxocephalus polyacanthocephalus
Size: to 30″ (75cm)
Range: Bering Sea to Washington
Habitat: On rocks and sand-mud; 40ft (12m) and deeper
Description:  Large Head


Quillback Rockfish

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Quillback Rockfish
Sebastes maliger
Size: to 24″ (60cm)
Range: Prince William Sound, Alaska to Point Sur< California
Habitat: On rocky refs surface (in kelp beds) to 480′ (146m)
Comments: Common and abundant in many areas, often in shelter of rocks or sponges.  Not a schooling species.  Has been depleted in some areas by sport and commercial fisheries.


Painted Greening

Painted Greenling Oxylebius pictus Gill

Painted Greenling Oxylebius pictus Gill

Painted Greenling
Oxylebius pictus Gill, 1862
Etmology: Oxys/lepys = sharp/fish; pictus = picture
Size: to 10″ (25cm)
Range: Aleutian Islands to Baja California
Habitat: On rocky reefs in protected waters, to 162′ (49m). Active in shallow rocky habitats, the distinctive Painted Greenling – generally with red strips on a whitish background – lurks singly or in pairs.  Seemingly unafraid as it moves from one perch to another, it often confronts the diver.
Description: Elongated, pointed head with 2 pairs of bushy appendages (cirri).  One lateral line. Dark vertical bars crossing body and dorsal fin.  Throughout the winter spawning season the mature male Painted Greenling is often almost totally black compared to the typically striped female.


Saddleback Gunnel

Saddleback Gunnel

Saddleback Gunnel

 

Saddleback Gunnel

Saddleback Gunnel

Saddleback Gunnel
Species: Pholis ornata
Common Names: saddled benny
Size: 30 cm (12in)
Range: Central California to southern British Columbia; Korea
Habitat: Shallow muddy substrate densely covered with eelgrass beds are prime locales for divers in search of the secretive Saddleback Gunnel.
Comments: In late winter and early spring, a mature female Saddleback Gunnel deposits her eggs in a small round cluster, while a male fertilizes them, and then both parents remain as guards.

 

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