Rockfish: they’re just like us!

Meet the Seattle Aquarium’s latest SEAlebrities: Rock and Roll, the rockfish! They are just two fish out of the 14 different rockfish species found at the Seattle Aquarium. But there are many more types of rockfish in the wild, with 24 species in the Pacific Northwest and more than 100 species worldwide.

Yelloweye rockfish swimming underwater.

When looking at a rockfish, it’s easy to point out how different they are from humans. But we share a lot more similarities than you might think:

1. Age is only a number. 
Admit it—getting older can be stressful sometimes. But one similarity humans and rockfish have is the ability to age gracefully. While most other fish have lifespans of two to 10 years, rockfish tend to live very long lives—up to 100 years or more! Unfortunately, there is a downside: Many rockfish who live to be 100 years or older don’t reach sexual maturity until they’re nearly 20 years old. Since they are susceptible to overfishing, some rockfish don’t have a chance to reproduce before they’re caught in a fishing net. That’s why most rockfish are listed as a species to avoid in sustainable seafood consumer guides.

2. Our differences make us who we are.
Though all people share common physical characteristics, our appearances vary widely and each of us is unique. Rockfish are the same way. Some species can be as small as 6 inches, while others may be 3 feet long and weigh up to 40 pounds! Rockfish can be red, orange, black or green, or even have a splotched or striped pattern. 

Yelloweye rockfish swimming underwater, turning towards another fish in front of it.

3. “Should I stay home or go out?” Rockfish can be introverted and extroverted.
Some people love to be social butterflies, while others prefer to go it alone. The same applies to rockfish. Some rockfish species live in schools, with hundreds or even thousands of individual fish! Others live more independent lifestyles and are protective of their solitary homes. 

4. Their tastes differ.
Human diets can range widely, depending on our individual wants and needs. Rockfish are the same way. Their go-to meals include plankton, small crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp, smaller fish like Pacific herring, and even jellyfish and squids!

5. (A healthy, clean) home is where the heart is.
Humans, fish and every living organism on the planet need a healthy, clean environment to thrive. You can help rockfish and other species by doing your part to protect Puget Sound and the ocean beyond, and choosing seafood from the “Best Choices” and “Good Alternatives” lists on the Seafood Watch cards at the Seattle Aquarium.

Yelloweye rockfish swimming underwater near a rocky underwater habitat.

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