Snapper

Species Name

Yellow Eye - Sebastes ruberrimus (the information below is for this species)

Black - Sebastes melonops

Flesh Color

Brilliant white to off white.

Flesh flavor

Snapper is mild with a lovely, heavy flake. It's my favorite for blacken fish tacos and fish and chips.

Size

Up to 36 inches

Distribution/Range

From the Aleutian Islands to the Baja Peninsula.

General Description

Brilliantly colored from orange-yellow to orange-red, yelloweye rockfish are one of the most well-known and prized of Alaska’s rockfish species. Deserving of their name, yelloweye are easily recognized by the bright yellow of their eyes. Individuals have been known to grow up to 36 inches which makes them one of the largest of rockfish species. A lighter colored line is usually distinguishable along the lateral line of the body and fins are often tipped in black. Yelloweye have several small spines on their head and a raspy ridge is found on the heads of large adults. Juveniles look very different from adults with dark red-orange coloration and two white stripes along the body. Fins of juveniles can be tipped in white or black.

Yelloweye are often called red snapper, but should not be confused with the red snapper found in the Gulf of Mexico, which is a different species. Other names for yelloweye include Pacific red snapper, red rock cod, and yellow belly.

Life History

Reproduction and Development

Females produce a large number of eggs (up to 2,700,000) and give birth to live larval young. Larval release occurs between February and September. Larval yelloweye may be dispersed over a wide area as they drift with ocean currents. Their survival is affected by ocean conditions such as temperature, currents and the availability of food. Only a small percentage of larval yelloweye will survive to reach maturity.

Food

While in the larval stage, yelloweye feed on algae, other single-celled organisms, and small crustaceans. As they grow to adulthood, yelloweye shift to a variety of prey including other rockfish, sand lance, herring, flatfishes and crustaceans.

Growth and Maturity

Yelloweye are slow to mature but are very long lived. One individual was aged at 121 years old. In Southeast, Alaska yelloweye males mature around the age of 18 while females mature around 22 years old.

Baby snapper

Movements

When yelloweye larvae are born, they are carried with ocean currents and eventually settle onto the ocean floor where more protection from predators can be found. As juveniles mature they will move into deeper water habitat. Adult yelloweye, like many species of non-pelagic rockfish, have small home ranges. Some may live their entire adult life on a single rock pile.

Range and Habitat

Yelloweye are found along the western coast of North America from the Aleutian Islands to the Baja Peninsula. Adults are often solitary and inhabit steep rocky areas with nooks and crannies that they can seek shelter in. Usually found near the bottom, yelloweye rarely venture far from shelter. They are most commonly found between 300 ft and 600 ft but have been found in water as shallow as 48 ft and as deep as 1,800 ft.

Information but the Alaska Department of Fish & Game