Marine Management News Fish Identification Quiz
October 2012

October 2012 MMN Fish Quiz Photo; Photo by E. Roberts

Biologists do not know a great deal about this species, but it is believed that their young enter the world in the late fall and winter. Females lay egg "nests" (sticky egg masses secured to suitable rocky habitat) and males are thought to guard the eggs while they develop. Juvenile fish settle into rocky habitat near shore.

This fish feeds on various sea worms, crustaceans, mollusks, fish eggs and small fishes. It ranges from the Bering Sea to Point Conception in Southern California, although it is rarely seen south of San Francisco. This species also occurs in the western Pacific Ocean south to Japan.

Rocky reef areas and kelp forests, especially those located on exposed coastlines, are the preferred habitat for this fish. It is believed that this species lives in relatively shallow waters off California, probably no deeper than 150 ft., guarding territories that are staked out when the fish reaches maturity at around 3 to 4 years of age. Divers have noted this fish may aggressively defend its territory by nipping at an offending diver's fingers.

This species has been aged to a maximum of 8 years (~12 in.) for males and 11 years (~22½ in.) for females. It has been known to reach two feet in length and around 2½ lb. This colorful fish has large skin flaps, known as cirri, over each eye.

Though it is often caught by recreational shore fishermen, sport and commercial landings are comparatively low. Little is known about the status of this species off of California.

This fish is a rock greenling, Hexagrammos lagocephalus. In 2014, the daily bag and possession limit for rock greenling is 10 fish within the RCG Complex bag limit of 10 rockfish, cabezon and greenlings in combination, per CCR Title 14, Section 28.55(b).