Juvenile Black Rockfish Affected by Marine Heat Wave but not always for the Worse, Research Shows
Published:13 Apr.2023    Source:Oregon State University

Larvae produced by black rockfish, a linchpin of the West Coast commercial fishing industry for the past eight decades, fared better during two recent years of unusually high ocean temperatures than had been feared, new research by Oregon State University shows.


Rockfish, a diverse genus with many species, are a group of ecologically as well as economically important fishes found from Baja California to British Columbia.They are known for lifespans that can reach triple digits, an ability to produce prodigious numbers of offspring and variable survival during their early life stages, during which they are highly sensitive to environmental conditions.


"The goal was to shed light on how oceanographic conditions affect the early growth and survival of black rockfish," Fennie said. "We found that despite fears of doom and gloom with recent anomalous warming of the waters off Oregon's coast, some young black rockfish grew faster as the temperature increased and, surprisingly, there was both high and low survival during different years of the heat wave."Survival was highest in years characterized by moderate larval growth rates, reduced predation and sufficient food to support growth, he added. When growth was highest, however, rockfish survival was very low, likely due to lack of food to sustain that high growth.