Blue Rockfish
Sebastes mystinus

Physical Description

  • An oval-shaped fish with a small mouth
  • Dark blue, olive brown, or grayish black coloration on back, becoming lighter on belly
  • Lighter gray blotches on sides 
  • No spots on dorsal (back) fin
  • Bottom fin straight, not rounded, which distinguishes it from the black rockfish
  • Adults up to 21 inches in length


  • The Bering Sea to Punta Baja, Baja California, Mexico


  • Live on rocky bottoms, rocky shores, kelp beds, even shipwrecks!
  • Found at depths of 0-300 feet, but most commonly 0-100 feet


  • Main spawning season is November-March
  • Fertilization is internal
  • Rockfish hatch their eggs internally and give birth to live young, which are quite small and helpless
  • A female blue rockfish can contain 500,000 eggs at a time! 


  • Salps (gelatinous plankton), jellyfish, shrimp, crustaceans, small fishes, and algae


  • Juveniles are eaten by lingcod, salmonids (salmon and trout), and other larger fish
  • Adults are eaten by marine mammals like harbor seals

Interesting Facts

  • Blue rockfish are often found in large schools.
  • They can live to be quite old fish, up to 44 years old! 
  • This species was redescribed by Frable et al., 2015. Ben Frable is the collections manager of the Marine Vertebrate Collection at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Sources: California Department of Fish and Wildlife; Encyclopedia of Puget Sound; California Finfish and Shellfish Identification Book

Photo: Howard Hall

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