Copper Rockfish

Copper Rockfish (Sebastes caurinus) as seen in our Passages of the Deep exhibit.

Copper Rockfish have a deep, stout body. They vary in color from dark brown or olive to pink or orange-red above with patches of copper-pink and sometimes yellow. Their bellies are whitish. Two copper-orange bars radiate backward from their eyes, and their cheeks are sometimes yellowish. Copper Rockfish often have a wide, pale stripe running along the rear two-thirds of their lateral line. (Compare to Canary Rockfish, which can be similarly colored but have a white band running the entire length of the lateral line.) There is also a prominent dark band going from the eye to the pectoral fin, and a second band below it. Their fins are mostly copper in color and often dark. Copper Rockfish are typically solitary bottom dwellers. They will sometimes gather into small groups hovering in kelp beds or above rocky ocean bottoms. These fish are not territorial, but tend to remain in one area. They are wary and will move away when approached by divers. Coppers will often share caves with Giant Pacific Octopuses. They also lurk around pilings, jetties and under floats. Juveniles will loosely aggregate in shallow, weedy bays, and can become temporarily trapped in tide pools.

Range & Habitat

Copper Rockfish are common from southeast Alaska to Baja California; but are most abundant from British Columbia to southern California. Coppers prefer rocky areas, from offshore reefs to shallow, protected bays, inlets and kelp forests. Occasionally they can be found around docks and jetties. These fish swim from near the surface down to 600 feet (183 m), but are most common in waters less than 400 feet (122 m) deep. Juveniles tend to live in shallow waters of less than 20 feet (6 m).

Conservational Status