A cowcod over high-relief rocky substrate and crinoids.
Contact: SWFSC Fisheries Resources Division, Benthic Resources Team
The cowcod (Sebastes levis) is easily distinguished from most other species, with a large head, relatively small eyes, and deeply incised dorsal fin. Juveniles are white or cream-colored, with intense dark vertical bars. These bars become more diffuse and indistinct with age, although even very large individuals retain remnant bars. Adult cowcod are cream, white, pink, dark yellow, golden, or salmon hued.
Cowcod range from Oregon to central Baja California at depths of 40-491 meters, with adults most abundant in water deeper than 150 meters. They were an important commercial species in the past, but both commercial and recreational catches declined markedly in the 1990s.
A cowcod conservation area was designated in January 2001 off southern California. This is one of the largest marine protected areas along the West Coast, prohibiting the take of most groundfish species.
Maximum size: 94 cm (37 inches), 13 kg (28.5 pounds).
Maximum age: At least 55 years.
From: The Rockfishes of the Northeast Pacific, by M.S. Love, M. Yoklavich, and L. Thorsteinson. University of California Press, 2002.