Starry Rockfish
Rocote Estrellado
(Sebastes constellatus)

Starry Rockfish, Sebastes constellatus: The Starry Rockfish has a red to orange coloration that is darker on its back. It is a sedentary couch potato with very little movement throughout its lifespan and is always found within 3 feet of the bottom in boulder fields, high relief rocks, and over cobblestone bottoms between 80 and 900 feet deep in the water column.

The adults Starry Rockfish is sprinkled profusely with small whitish spots that are the key to identification.

Due to these markings the Starry Rockfish cannot be easily confused with any other species. Its also has five or six larger white blotches on its sides.

The Starry Rockfish has a rounded head that is not found in other rockfishes.

The Starry Rockfish ranges in size up to 18 inches with the females being slightly larger than males. The female produces up to 225,000 eggs annually. The fish has a lifespan of at least 30 years.

The Starry Rockfish feeds on fish, squid, krill, octopi, and a variety of other small marine life.

Distribution in Mexico fishing areas

It ranges from northern California to Magdalena Bay along the Pacific side of Baja Calilfornia, Mexico. We have also documented the southerly range extension of this species as far south as 23.41N and 110.23W, which is previously unknown. In some areas the Starry Rockfish is an important recreational fish being a significant component of the rockfish catch in central and southern California. It is also caught by commercial fishermen with gill nets and by hook and line. It is sold whole in several ethnic markets.

The Starry Rockfish is a member of the Scorpaenidae Family, which are known in Mexican fishing areas as escorpiones and rocotes.

In general the scorpion fishes have large bony heads with large oblique mouths and small eyes. The anal, dorsal and pelvic fin spines in many species are venomous. They have a single dorsal fin that is strongly notched between the spines and the rays. Scorpionfish are well camouflaged bottom dwellers that blend into the background and are found from tidal pools to the oceanic abyss. Most are secretive and found in caves and crevices remaining stationary during daylight and becoming active nocturnal ambush predators at night feeding on small fish and crustaceans.

 Starry Rockfish picture 1

Starry Rockfish, Sebastes constellatus: Donated to during fishing by the commercial Mexican pangueros of Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, June 2008. Size 38.5 cm. This collection documented a significant range extension for this species into the tropical Eastern Pacific. Description and photo courtesy of John Snow.

 Starry Rockfish picture 2

Starry Rockfish, Sebastes constellatus: The pictured fish is currently a living resident of the Birch Aquarium, La Jolla, Calif. Photo taken in January 2008. Size, approximately 13 inches. Several productive discussions related to rockfishes with Dr. Milton Love, University of California, Santa Barbara, acknowledged. Description and photo courtesy of John Snow.

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