Kelp Forest – Copper Rockfish
Nature of America
Issue Date: October 1, 2009
City: Monterey, CA
The copper rockfish is a loner. Staking out a territory on the sea floor, the rockfish will fight all comers to protect its home.
Finding a rock or crevice to call home is important to the copper rockfish’s survival. Although it grows up to 26 inches, there are much larger predators swimming in the kelp forest. Lingcod, sea lions, and seals find the copper rockfish to be a tasty meal. This may be why a copper rockfish is so willing to fight for its hiding place.
Another reason the copper rockfish protects its territory is the abundance of prey living in and near the kelp forest. With a bounty of kelp crabs, squid, octopus, and fish, the copper rockfish is also fighting to preserve its hunting ground.
Life is even harder for the young copper rockfish. Living in the kelp forest canopy, it lacks the protection of a rock home. Seabirds, Chinook salmon, and even other rockfish prey on the young fish. The copper rockfish does not reach maturity and stake out a territory until three to eight years of age.
Feeding on smaller sea creatures, and in turn being fed upon by larger sea animals, the copper rockfish contributes to the diversity and health of the kelp forest.