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The dusky rockfishes (Teleostei: Scorpaeniformes) of the North Pacific Ocean: resurrection of Sebastes variabilis (Pallas, 1814) and a redescription of Sebastes ciliatus (Tilesius, 1813)

, : The dusky rockfishes (Teleostei: Scorpaeniformes) of the North Pacific Ocean: resurrection of Sebastes variabilis (Pallas, 1814) and a redescription of Sebastes ciliatus (Tilesius, 1813). Fishery Bulletin 102(2): 8-48

The dusky rockfish (Sebastes ciliatus) of the North Pacific Ocean has been considered a single variable species with light and dark forms distributed in deep and shallow water, respectively. These forms have been subjected to two distinct fisheries separately managed by federal and state agencies: the light deep form is captured in the offshore trawl fishery; the dark shallow form, in the nearshore jig fishery. The forms have been commonly recognized as the light dusky and dark dusky rockfishes. From morphological evidence correlated with color differences in some 400 specimens, we recognize two species corresponding with these color forms. Sebastes ciliatus (Tilesius) is the dark shallow-water species found in depths of 5-160 m in the western Aleutian Islands and eastern Bering Sea to British Columbia. The name Sebastes variabilis (Pallas) is resurrected from the synonymy of S. ciliatus to apply to the deeper water species known from depths of 12-675 m and ranging from Hokkaido, Japan, through the Aleutian Islands and eastern Bering Sea, to Oregon. Sebastes ciliatus is uniformly dark blue to black, gradually lightening on the ventrum, with a jet black peritoneum, a smaller symphyseal knob, and fewer lateral-line pores compared to S. variabilis. Sebastes variabilis is more variable in body color, ranging from light yellow to a more usual tan or greenish brown to a nearly uniform dark dorsum, but it invariably has a distinct red to white ventrum. Synonymies, diagnoses, descriptions, and geographic distributions are provided for each species.

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