Banner Photo Credit: Eiko Jones; Male Kelp Greenling patrolling the kelp beds of Browning Pass



Ophiodon elongatus

Depth: 1.5-475 m · Common range: shallow intertidal to 150 m · SARA Status: Not listed · COSEWIC Status: Not assessed

Appearance: Grey to brown, blueish or greenish colouration. Gold to yellow to cream, tan, light brown, blue, grey, or black undercolour. White belly. Greenish or blueish tint on back. Lighten, darken and change colour to blend with background. Males tend to darken during mating season (winter). Single prominent whitish lateral line. Regardless of colour shade, they have a consistent pattern of alternating midline and dorsal dark blotches of pigment. Very large mouth with jutting lower jaw; the head becomes broader and proportionally larger with advancing age.

Habitat Use and Behaviour: Adults inhabit rocky bottom areas. They have a strong preference for habitats with boulders, rock ridges, and high relief areas. They tend to rest on the bottom, but can be found a meter or so above the substrate when they patrol their established territory. Females typically reside deeper than males, and move inshore to spawn (January-March). During incubation males guard the egg masses, which are laid in rock crevices with strong currents. Young juveniles settle onto open sand, then move to complex but low profile habitats, such as eelgrass, small rocks and sea pens from April to July. As they age they move to kelp beds and offshore rocky reefs.  They exhibit some seasonal inshore and offshore migrations, especially for fish living at depths deeper than nesting depth. Vertical migration is more common in females than males.  Depending on their size, they prey on euphasids, copepods, crustaceans, fishes, shrimps, octopuses, squids, fish eggs, and crabs. Their dominant predators are salmon, rockfish, lingcod, dogfish, sharks, bald eagles, common murres, harbor seals, and California and Steller sea lions.

Critical habitat and management considerations: They recruit sooner than most rockfish species (except for Coppers) since they have shorter life spans and faster individual growth. Ensure rocky reefs are situated in a site with appropriate current for egg masses. Very large boulders provide focus for territorial males and intensify adjacent current flows through crevices, which is ideal for egg incubation.        

Adult and Juvenile Lingcod Habitat Use

Adult and Juvenile Lingcod Habitat Use

Kelp Greenling

Hexagrammos decagrammus

Depth: intertidal-130 m · Common range: 0-100 m · SARA Status: No status · COSEWIC Status: Not assessed

Appearance: Males have olive to brown to orange or grey to bluish grey colouration. They have blue irregular spots on their head and forebody, outlined by a few small, dark reddish brown spots. Females have a silvery undercolour, speckled with red-brown to gold spots over bluish white to pale cream, light brown or grey undercolour. Females have yellow to gold fins, especially pectorals. Juveniles are silvery to brown, green or red with a few scattering of white spots.

Habitat Use and Behaviour: Adults inhabit inshore kelp and eelgrass beds, rocky reefs and sandy bottoms. They rapidly colonize habitats and are commonly found in intertidal and subtidal regions in seaweeds and boulders among plant life. They are solitary reef fish, spending the majority of their time within a few metres of the bottom. Juveniles settle to rocky intertidal or shallow subtidal waters, and are often found in tide pools. They are always found amongst plant life (eelgrass or kelp). Kelp greenlings are opportunistic feeders on benthic oriented prey: brittle stars, amphipods, polychaetes, shrimps, fishes, and snails. Their dominant predators are rockfish, cabezons, lingcod, salmon, skates, auklets, guillemots, murres, Steller sea lions, harbour seals, and minks.

Critical habitat and management considerations: Will rapidly colonize new habitats. They have a shorter lifespan than other reef fish and faster recruitment.

Adult and Juvenile Kelp Greenling Habitat Use

Adult and Juvenile Kelp Greenling Habitat Use