The waters of the Pacific Northwest are filled with unique and intriguing life, and the diversity of it's fish species rivals that of any other part of the world.fish, northwest fish, shark, vancouver island scuba, scuba, scuba diving
There are more than 325 species of fish that live in Pacific Northwest waters. Most of the species fall under a few common categories that are frequently seen by divers and snorkelers, while others are very rare and are only seen by a lucky few or are brought to the surface by fishing.scuba bc, scuba training, nanaimo, vancouver island, scuba training victoria
There are approximately 350 types of sculpins that can be found worldwide, and more than 40 species inhabit the waters of the Pacific Northwest.
This species is typically identified by a broad, flat head and slender tapering body. They range in size from the small grunt and tidepool sculpins, to the large cabezon.
Sculpins rely on their amazing array of colours for camouflage and often will not move unless threatened.
Images: Longfin Sculpin, Scallyhead Sculpin, Sailfin Sculpin
Sculpin Species Information and Images
Worldwide 330 species in the Family Scorpaenidae have been identified, and 68 of those species reside along the Pacific coast of North America. Rockfish, or scorpionfishes, are common throughout intertidal zones and up to depths of 2800m. These fish are popular photographic targets because of their amazing colouration. Rockfish hatch live larvae from inside the female’s body after she has incubated the eggs.
The term scorpionfish refers to the toxicity of species in this family, which includes the tropical members commonly known as lionfish and stonefish. The Pacific Northwest inhabitants are not as harmful, however their fin spines do carry venom that can cause swelling and a painful burning sensation.
Images: Tiger Rockfish, Yellow Rockfish, Quillback Rockfish
Rockfish Species Information and Images
When diving around the Pacific Northwest, this is one of the better-known species – Family Hexagrammidae. This small group of fishes has only approximately 13 described species. Roughly half of those species live in this region, and the rest inhabit Asian Pacific waters. The most prominent member in this family is the lingcod, but also included is the more colourful members: kelp, painted and rock greenlings. Most of the greenlings are small to medium sized with an elongated body and a single long dorsal fin.
Images: Painted Greenling, Lingcod, Kelp Greenling
Pricklebacks This family of slender, elongated fishes includes the pricklebacks, warbonnets, eelblennies, and cockscombs. What makes most of these species so unique is their ornate head decoration. Most of these fish are bottom dwellers and use their colouration to camouflage themselves in the rocks and kelp.
Images: Mosshead Warbonnet, Decorated Warbonnet, Longfin Gunnel
There are many other species of fish that make up the huge biomass floating along the Pacific coast. These include ronquils, perch, goby’s, flounders, sole, tubesnouts, pipefish, poachers and Wolf eels.
Images: Bay Pipefish, Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker, Kelp Poacher
As one of the most unique denizens of this coast, the Wolf eel (Anarrhichthys ocellatus), can be one of the most memorable encounters by a diver. Readily “tamed” to accept handouts, this magnificent creature represents the ultimate in dive buddy alternatives. A very common inhabitant of the rocky reef and shorelines, they are most often spotted lurking in a cave or crevice. Lucky photographers may stumble upon a mated pair huddled in a cave protecting their eggs.
Males can grow to 3m in length and resemble a wrinkled old man, whereas females are smaller and darker blue in colour. A truly wondrous sight is the very inquisitive and colourful juvenile wolf eel. Juvenile’s can have red, orange, yellow and even bright purple colouration.scuba diving victoria, wolf eel, scuba shark, huge shark, dive education, padi, scuba padi, dive training
Wolf eels are not eels as one might think, they are just elongated bony fish. Being a fish also improves their disposition unlike true eels.