Kelp Forest – Vermilion Rockfish
Nature of America
Issue Date: October 1, 2009
City: Monterey, CA
Adult vermilion rockfish live on the ocean floor where they hide between rocks and crevices. However, the juveniles live in the kelp forest, where predators lurk in every corner. The rockfish must keep a wary eye open for toothy fish such as lingcod and cabezon. While avoiding these ferocious creatures, they must also contend with quick and agile harbor seals and sea lions.
Constantly threatened by larger sea animals, the vermilion rockfish has evolved a useful deterrent. Venom glands are attached to several spines on the fins of the rockfish. Although it is mild venom, it packs a strong enough punch to intimidate some predators.
At the age of 3 to 4 years, the vermilion rockfish is mature and moves to water depths of 100 to 500 feet or more. Living at the bottom, it feeds on other fish, squid, and octopus. Although the rockfish is able to spawn at this age, its ability to reproduce increases as it grows in size and age.
A highly sought-after species for food, vermilion rockfish are fished both recreationally and commercially, which has led to overfishing in some areas. Because of this, California and Oregon strictly regulate fishing of vermilion rockfish and have implemented plans to rebuild their population.