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Pacific salmon and trout

Pacific salmon

Chinook salmon

chinook

Chum salmon

chum

Coho salmon

coho

Pink salmon

pink

Sockeye salmon

sockeye

Features of Pacific salmon

Species Mouth Tail Other distinguishing features Age at maturity Freshwater markings
Chinook Dark with black gums; large, sharp teeth V-shaped, silvery; spots on both lobes Large spots on back 3 to 7 years Body turns olive brown to black
Chum White, tongue may be black; large teeth No spots, silver streaks covering about half of tail; narrow tail base No spots on back or tail; possible faint vertical bars on silver fish; white tip on anal fin 3 to 5 years Vertical bands on sides, may be reddish purple on male
Coho White, may have black edge, white gums; sharp, medium sized teeth Square, silver; some spots, usually on upper lobe; wide tail base Spots on upper part of body 3 years Greenish black head, red body
Pink salmon White with black gums; in marine areas, almost no teeth V-shaped, no silver; large oval spots on both lobes Large spots on back; smallest species 2 years Pronounced hump on male
Sockeye salmon White with white gum line; small teeth Moderately forked; no spots No spots on back or tail; prominent, glassy eyes 4 to 5 years Greenish head, red body

Atlantic salmon

Report all captures of Atlantic salmon to: 1-800-811-6010 (toll-free).

Click thumbnail to enlarge image.

Trout

Species Identifying features
Cutthroat Trout

Trout - Cutthroat

  • Large mouth extends well past eye
  • Teeth in throat, at back of tongue
  • Many spots from front to back
Steelhead Trout

Trout - Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

  • Slender lateral profile
  • Small black spots on back, uniform spots on square tail
  • No teeth in throat, at back of tongue
Dolly Varden Trout

Trout - Dolly Varden

  • Small head
  • Oval, snakelike body
  • White leading edges on lower fins
Groundfish
Species name Identifying features
Lingcod

Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus)

  • Up to 150 cm
  • Body mottled brown to grey fading to white on belly
  • Head, mouth & teeth are all large
  • Appears to have 1 dorsal fin
  • No barbel under chin
Pacific Cod

Pacific Cod (Gadus macrocephalus)

  • Up 120 cm
  • Body mottled grey to brown fading to white on belly
  • 3 dorsal fins
  • 2 anal fins
  • Barbel under chin
Sablefish (Black Cod)

Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)

  • Up to 107 cm
  • Body black to grey
  • Scales small
  • 2 dorsal fins
  • 1 anal fin
  • Forehead flat
  • Caudal fin forked
  • No barbel under chin
Arrowtooth Flounder

Arrowtooth Flounder (Atheresthes stomias)

  • Up to 84 cm
  • Body brown-grey to olive
  • Blind side white to grey
  • Mouth large
  • 2 rows of large arrow-shaped teeth
  • Caudal fin forked
  • Right-eyed
Starry Flounder

Starry Flounder (Platichthys stellatus)

  • Up to 1 meter
  • Body brown to green and diamond shaped
  • Blind side white to tan
  • Dorsal & anal fins are banded with black
  • Scales rough
  • Can be right or left-eyed
Pacific Halibut

Pacific Halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis)

  • Up to 270 cm
  • Body marbled brown with grey
  • Blind side white
  • Body thick and sturdy
  • Mouth large with sharp conical teeth
  • Caudal fin slightly forked
  • Almost always right-eyed
English Sole

English Sole (Parophrys vetulus)

  • Up to 57 cm
  • Body light brown
  • Blind side white to yellow
  • Body smooth and diamond shaped
  • Head & jaw pointed
  • Right-eyed
Rock Sole

Rock Sole (Lepidopsetta bilineata)

  • Up to 60 cm
  • Body mottled brown
  • Dark blotches on fins
  • Blind side white with pink tinge
  • Mouth small
  • Scales large and rough
  • High arch on lateral line
  • Right-eyed
Pacific Sanddab

Pacific Sanddab (Citharichthys sordidus)

  • Up to 41 cm
  • Body brown to tan mottled
  • Blind side white to tan
  • Caudal fin rounded
  • Eyes and mouth are large
  • Left-eyed
Big Skate

Big Skate (Raja binoculata)

  • Up to 240 cm
  • Body olive-brown to grey
  • Blind side is white
  • Dark eye spots on wings
  • 5 gill slits
  • Dorsal spines start above the tail
Longnose Skate

Longnose Skate (Raja rhina)

  • Up to 140 cm
  • Body dark brown
  • Blind side is grey
  • Long pointed nose
  • 5 gill slits
  • Dorsal spines start at tail
Kelp Greenling

Kelp Greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus)

  • Up to 61 cm
  • Male body brown to olive with blue spots
  • Female body light brown to golden-blue with large brown to orange spots
  • 5 lateral lines on each side
Cabezon

Cabezon (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus)

  • Up to 100 cm
  • Body marbled olive-green to brown-grey with white patches
  • Body can be red
  • Flap like projections on snout and over each eye
Red Irish Lord

Red Irish Lord (Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus)

  • Up to 51cm
  • Body red mottled with brown, white and black
  • 4 vertical dark bands
  • Single dorsal fin notched to form 3 steps
  • Snout blunt and rounded
Ratfish

Ratfish (Hydrolagus colliei)

  • Up to 100 cm
  • Body grey-brown with white spots with olive belly
  • Tail is long and tapering
  • Watch out for the poisonous spine at the front of the dorsal fin
Spiny Dogfish

Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias)

  • Up to 160 cm
  • Body slate grey to brown
  • Belly white to light grey
  • 5 gill slits
  • 2 dorsal fins with a spine in front of each
  • No anal fin
Rockfish
  • Inshore benthic species
    • Mostly found in shallow depths but range from 0-300 fathoms (0-600 meters)
    • Adults live close to the bottom usually in rocky areas with high relief bottoms
    • Some species like to hide in rocky crevices

  • Midwater species
    • Mostly found in intermediate depths but range from 0-300 fathoms (0-600 meters)
    • Adults live near the bottom
    • More likely to be schooling fish
    • Most numerous near the edge of the continental shelf

  • Deep benthic species
    • Mostly found in deeper depths but range from 50-1000 fathoms (100-2000 meters)
    • Most species are red in colour
    • Mixture of on-bottom, near-bottom and off-bottom schooling species
    • Most abundant in the upper regions of the continental shelf slope
Species name Identifying features Species location
Blue Rockfish

Deacon Rockfish (Sebastes diaconus)

  • up to 53 cm
  • body blue to black and pink to white
  • dark stripes on forehead
  • dark speckles on sides
  • blue tipped pelvic fins
  • body deep with round head
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to mid orbit

Midwater species

Black Rockfish

Black Rockfish (Sebastes melanops)

  • up to 69 cm
  • body blue to black
  • elongated body with black speckles
  • white or grey belly
  • white or grey blotches between dorsal fin and lateral line
  • fins are dark with black spots
  • anal fin edge rounded and slants anteriorly
  • symphyseal knob absent
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Midwater species

Brown Rockfish

Brown Rockfish (Sebastes auriculatus)

  • up to 56cm
  • body brown to tan and pink to white
  • dark blotches
  • dark blotch on gill cover
  • pink to white fins
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Inshore benthic species

China Rockfish

China Rockfish (Sebastes nebulosus)

  • up to 45 cm
  • black to blue and yellow to white
  • black body speckled with yellow and white
  • yellow 3rddorsal fin
  • yellow line extends from 3rd dorsal fin
  • symphyseal knob small
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Inshore benthic species

Copper Rockfish

Copper Rockfish (Sebastes caurinus)

  • up to 66 cm
  • body olive to brown and copper to yellow
  • dark or light variations
  • 2 bands radiate from eyes
  • pink or yellow blotches
  • 2/3rds of lateral line is pale
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Inshore benthic species

Quillback Rockfish

Quillback Rockfish (Sebastes maliger)

  • up to 64 cm
  • body black to brown and orange to yellow
  • dark freckles on head or throat
  • yellowish saddle markings do not extend to tail
  • high, deeply notched dorsal fin
  • symphyseal knob absent
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Inshore benthic species

Tiger Rockfish

Tiger Rockfish (Sebastes nigrocinctus)

  • up to 61 cm
  • body red to white and black to brown
  • Dark or light variations
  • ridges between eyes
  • fins with pink to white tips
  • 2 dark bands radiate from eyes
  • 5 dark vertical bars from dorsal fin to belly
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Inshore benthic species

Yelloweye Rockfish

Yelloweye Rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus)

  • Adult
    • up to 91 cm
    • body yellow to red
    • bright yellow eyes
    • rough ridges above eyes
    • fins may be black at tips
    • lateral line is light
    • symphyseal knob present
    • maxilla to rear of orbit
  • Juvenile
    • dark red with 2 white stripes and may have white vertical band at base of tail fin
  • these rockfish are listed as species of Special Concern under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA)

Deep benthic species

Bank Rockfish

Bank Rockfish (Sebastes rufus)

  • up to 51 cm
  • body light red to grey
  • fins have black membrane
  • lateral line clear to pink
  • bands radiating from eye
  • small mouth
  • symphyseal knob present
  • maxilla to mid orbit

Midwater species

Bocaccio Rockfish

Bocaccio (Sebastes paucispinis)

  • Adult
    • up to 91 cm
    • body orange to red and olive to pink
    • with light lateral line
    • lower jaw long projecting past upper jaw
    • symphyseal knob absent
    • maxilla to rear of orbit
  • Juvenile
    • usually light bronze with speckling over sides and back
    • slightly concave between mouth and dorsal fin

Midwater species

Canary Rockfish

Canary Rockfish (Sebastes pinnigers)

  • up to 76 cm
  • body orange to yellow to grey
  • mottled orange to yellow on light grey
  • pale lateral line
  • pointed orange fins with white leading edge
  • 3 orange bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Deep benthic species

Chilipepper

Chilipepper (Sebastes goodei)

  • up to 59 cm
  • body red to copper pink fading to white on the belly
  • lateral line is red
  • body slender
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to mid orbit

Midwater species

Dusky Rockfish

Dusky Rockfish (Sebastes ciliatus)

  • up to 53 cm
  • body grey to light brown
  • body can be almost black
  • belly grey to pink
  • anal fin edge vertical
  • bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob present
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Midwater species

Greenstriped Rockfish

Greenstriped Rockfish (Sebastes elongatus)

  • up to 43 cm
  • body pink to yellow with 3-4 horizontal green stripes
  • belly pink to white
  • body slender
  • caudal fin has green stripes
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to mid orbit

Midwater species

Harlequin Rockfish

Harlequin Rockfish (Sebastes variegatus)

  • up to 37 cm
  • body red with dark blotches
  • dorsal fin membrane black
  • 2/3 lateral line pale
  • bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to mid orbit
  • 2nd anal spine longer than 3rd

Midwater species

Northern Rockfish

Northern Rockfish (Sebastes polyspinis)

  • up to 41 cm
  • body red mottled with grey and orange fading to white on belly
  • dark bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Midwater species

Puget Sound Rockfish

Puget Sound Rockfish (Sebastes emphaeus)

  • up to 18 cm
  • body slender and red to copper with dark blotches fading to white on belly
  • bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to mid orbit
  • 2nd anal spine longer than 3rd

Midwater species

Pygmy Rockfish

Pygmy Rockfish (Sebastes wilsoni)

  • up to 35 cm
  • body slender and pink to olive fading to white on belly
  • fins red to pink
  • vent located midway from pelvic and anal fins
  • symphyseal knob small
  • maxilla to mid orbit

Midwater species

Shortbelly Rockfish

Shortbelly Rockfish (Sebastes jordani)

  • up to 35 cm
  • body slender and pink to olive fading to white on belly
  • fins red to pink
  • vent located midway from pelvic and anal fins
  • symphyseal knob small
  • maxilla to mid orbit

Midwater species

Silvergray Rockfish

Silvergray Rockfish (Sebastes brevispinis)

  • up to 71 cm
  • body grey to silver and grey to pink
  • large mouth with dark lips
  • light lateral line
  • symphyseal knob large
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Midwater species

Stripetail Rockfish

Stripetail Rockfish (Sebastes saxicola)

  • up to 41 cm
  • body pink to red with dusky blotches on back
  • caudal fin has green streaks
  • eyes large
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to mid orbit
  • 2nd anal spine longer than 3rd

Midwater species

Widow Rockfish

Widow Rockfish (Sebastes saxicola)

  • up to 59 cm
  • body golden-brown to brown
  • rough ridges above eyes
  • small mouth
  • light lateral line
  • fins with black membranes
  • anal fin angles up toward tail
  • pectoral fin extends past pelvic fin
  • symphyseal knob absent
  • maxilla to mid orbit

Midwater species

Yellowtail Rockfish

Yellowtail Rockfish (Sebastes flavidus)

  • up to 66 cm
  • body olive to green to brown
  • narrow, light lateral line
  • may have pale spots on back
  • fins have yellow tinge
  • anal fin edge almost vertical
  • symphyseal knob present
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Midwater species

Aurora Rockfish

Aurora (Sebastes aurora)

  • up to 40 cm
  • body red to pink
  • head spines strong
  • upper jaw has lobes present
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
  • 2nd anal spine longer than 3rd

Deep benthic species

Blackgill Rockfish

Blackgill Rockfish (Sebastes melanostomus)

  • up to 61 cm
  • body is red
  • gill cover edge is black
  • mouth is black inside
  • fins red with black tips
  • symphyseal knob large
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Deep benthic species

Darkblotched Rockfish

Darkblotched Rockfish (Sebastes crameri)

  • up to 58cm
  • body red to pink with 4-5 dark patches on back
  • body deep
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to mid orbit
  • 2nd anal spine shorter than 3rd

Deep benthic species

Longspine Thornyhead Rockfish

Longspine Thornyhead Rockfish (Sebastolobus altivelis)

  • up to 38 cm
  • body red with black on fins
  • head and eyes large
  • gill chamber dusky
  • 3rd dorsal spine is longest
  • maxilla to mid orbit
  • pectoral fin notched

Deep benthic species

Pacific Ocean Perch

Pacific Ocean Perch (Sebastes alutus)

  • up to 55 cm
  • body red with dark olive blotches on back and caudal peduncle
  • fins red
  • symphyseal knob large
  • maxilla to mid orbit

Deep benthic species

Redbanded Rockfish

Redbanded Rockfish (Sebastes babcocki)

  • up to 65 cm
  • body light pink to red with 4 broad vertical red bands
  • 1-2 red bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to mid orbit

Deep benthic species

Redstripe Rockfish

Redstripe Rockfish (Sebastes proriger)

  • up to 52 cm
  • body red mottled with olive and yellow with dark lips
  • lateral line red to pink
  • bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to mid orbit

Deep benthic species

Rosethorn Rockfish

Rosethorn Rockfish (Sebastes helvomaculatus)

  • up to 41 cm
  • body yellow to orange mottled with green
  • belly pink
  • 4-5 white-pink spots on back
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Deep benthic species

Rougheye Rockfish

Rougheye Rockfish / Blackspotted complex (Sebastes aleutianus)

  • up to 80 cm
  • 2–10 spines below the eyes and long thin gill rakers on the first gill arch
  • colour spectrum underwater: Pink, tan or brownish; may have brown or bronze blotches or saddles
  • colour spectrum above the surface: Pink or bright red with black or grey blotches.
  • fins red with black edges
  • lower jaw has small pores
  • symphyseal knob present
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
  • these rockfish are listed as species of Special Concern under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA)

Deep benthic species

Sharpchin Rockfish

Sharpchin Rockfish (Sebastes zacentrus)

  • up to 45 cm
  • body red-pink to yellow
  • 5-6 dark markings on back
  • 2 bands radiating from eyes
  • symphyseal knob strong
  • maxilla to mid orbit
  • 2nd anal spine longer than 3rd

Deep benthic species

Shortraker Rockfish

Shortraker Rockfish (Sebastes borealis)

  • up to 120 cm
  • body red to orange
  • lower jaw has large pores
  • gill rakers on first arch are short and stubby
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Deep benthic species

Shortspine Thornyhead

Shortspine Rockfish (Sebastolobus alascanusi)

  • up to 80 cm
  • body red with black on fins
  • head and eyes large
  • gill chamber pale
  • 4-5th dorsal spine is longest
  • maxilla to rear of orbit
  • pectoral fin notched

Deep benthic species

Splitnose Rockfish

Splitnose Rockfish (Sebastes diploproa)

  • up to 46 cm
  • body red fading to white on belly
  • fins red with black botches
  • upper lip has large notch
  • symphyseal knob weak
  • maxilla to mid orbit

Deep benthic species

Vermilion Rockfish

Vermillion Rockfish (Sebastes miniatus)

  • up to 76 cm
  • body bright red to grey
  • speckled with grey
  • 3 orange bands radiating from eyes
  • prominent vertical line
  • rounded pelvic and anal fins usually with black edges
  • symphyseal knob present
  • maxilla to rear of orbit

Deep benthic species

Yellowmouth Rockfish

Yellowmouth Rockfish (Sebastes reedi)

  • up to 58 cm
  • body red with yellow-orange
  • body has dark blotches
  • inside mouth black and yellow
  • symphyseal knob present
  • maxilla to mid orbit

Deep benthic species

Keep an eye out for this species of Special Concern!

Rougheye / Blackspotted Complex is often misidentified as a Shortraker Rockfish which looks similar. Living up to 140 years of age, this SARA-listed species of Special Concern is possibly the longest lived fish species on earth and it needs your protection.

Total length: Up to 80 centimeters — that’s almost 3 feet!

Unique features: 2 –10 spines below the eyes and long thin gill rakers on the first gill arch

Color spectrum underwater: Pink, tan or brownish; may have brown or bronze blotches or saddles

Color spectrum above the surface: Pink or bright red with black or grey blotches.

Protect this significant species— always record and report unintended catch.

Saltwater finfish
Species name Identifying features
Lingcod

Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus)

  • Up to 150 cm
  • Body mottled brown to grey fading to white on belly
  • Head, mouth & teeth are all large
  • Appears to have 1 dorsal fin
  • No barbel under chin
Pacific Cod

Pacific Cod (Gadus macrocephalus)

  • Up 120 cm
  • Body mottled grey to brown fading to white on belly
  • 3 dorsal fins
  • 2 anal fins
  • Barbel under chin
Pacific Halibut

Pacific Halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis)

  • Up to 270 cm
  • Body marbled brown with grey
  • Blind side white
  • Body thick and sturdy
  • Mouth large with sharp conical teeth
  • Caudal fin slightly forked
  • Almost always right-eyed
English Sole

English Sole (Parophrys vetulus)

  • Up to 57 cm
  • Body light brown
  • Blind side white to yellow
  • Body smooth and diamond shaped
  • Head & jaw pointed
  • Right-eyed
Pacific Sanddab

Pacific Sanddab (Citharichthys sordidus)

  • Up to 41 cm
  • Body brown to tan mottled
  • Blind side white to tan
  • Caudal fin rounded
  • Eyes and mouth are large
  • Left-eyed
Kelp Greenling

Kelp Greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus)

  • Up to 61 cm
  • Male body brown to olive with blue spots
  • Female body light brown to golden-blue with large brown to orange spots
  • 5 lateral lines on each side
Spiny Dogfish

Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias)

  • Surface swimmer, found throughout B.C.
  • Average length/weight: 75-105 cm, 10 kg.
  • Dark grey/brown on back, light-coloured belly. may have irregular white spots on back. Dorsal fins preceded by spines
Surfperch

Surfperch (Embiotocidae)

  • Found in shallow inshore waters
  • Length: up to 45 cm
  • Compressed, deep body with large eyes and small mouth. Varieties have different markings. Striped seaperch: Blue and gold stripes. Pile perch: Silvery with black vertical bars
Herring

Herring (Clupea)

  • Found in shallow regions or in midwater over greater depths. Found in huge schools
  • Average length: 25 cm
  • Silvery with blue-green back, large scales. Toothless
Pacific Sardine

Pacific Sardine (Sardinops sagax)

  • Found in large schools, feeding on plankton
  • Average length: 30 cm
  • Small, silvery fish of herring family
Mackerel

Mackerel (Scombridae)

  • Fairly abundant off west coast of Vancouver Island and Prince Rupert Harbour
  • Chub or Pacific mackerel: Average size: 45 cm but can reach 60 cm. Streamlined spindle shape. Two dorsal fins and five small finlets between second dorsal and tail
  • Jack mackerel: Bigger than Pacific mackerel, reaching 80 cm. Only one finlet following second dorsal fin
Smelt

Smelt (Osmeridae)

  • Found inshore. Spawn on beaches and in estuaries
  • Average length: 15 cm
  • Small, schooling, silvery fish
Sculpin

Sculpin (Cottoidea)

  • Cabezon: Found in northern B.C., often in kelp beds from shallow to moderate depths. Weight: up to 11 kg.
  • Pacific staghorn sculpin: Found in shallow waters along Pacific coast. Average length: 46 cm
  • Large eyes high on head. Pectoral fins smooth on upper edge, webbed with sharp rays along lower edge
Sole Flounder

Sole/Flounder (Soleidae)

  • Found in deep waters in areas with gravel/mud bottoms
  • Average length/weight (of English sole): 36 cm, 1.5 kg
  • Oval or diamond-shaped. Both eyes on dark-coloured side of head, other side white and eyeless
Tuna

Tuna (Thunnas)

  • Albacore tuna are a hefty fish with a fairly short body that becomes quite narrow near their tail, which is quite slender. They have two dorsal fins, the first of which is dark and the second pale yellow. Albacore tuna have dark blue backs and a whitish underside with a faint blue iridescent line running across their flanks. Albacore tuna are distinguished from similar species by their very long pectoral fins. They can grow to well over a metre in length and weigh more than 50 kilograms.
Sablefish

Sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria)

  • Up to 107 cm
  • Body black to grey
  • Scales small
  • 2 dorsal fins
  • 1 anal fin
  • Forehead flat
  • Caudal fin forked
  • No barbel under chin
Ratfish

Ratfish (Hydrolagus colliei)

  • Up to 100 cm
  • Body grey-brown with white spots with olive belly
  • Tail is long and tapering
  • Watch out for a poisonous spine at the front of the dorsal fin
Big Skate

Big Skate (Raja binoculata)

  • Up to 240 cm
  • Body olive-brown to grey
  • Blind side is white
  • Dark eye spots on wings
  • 5 gill slits
  • Dorsal spines start above the tail
Northern Anchovy

Northern Anchovy (Engraulis mordax)

  • The northern anchovy is easily recognized by its extremely long upper jaw. The fish is elongated, blue-green on the back with silver sides and belly. Northern anchovies reach about 25 cm in length and have a life span of about 7 years.
Cutthroat Trout

Trout - Cutthroat

  • Large mouth extends well past eye
  • Teeth in throat, at back of tongue
  • Many spots from front to back
Steelhead Trout

Trout - Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

  • Slender lateral profile
  • Small black spots on back, uniform spots on square tail
  • No teeth in throat, at back of tongue
Dolly Varden Trout

Trout - Dolly Varden

  • Small head
  • Oval, snakelike body
  • White leading edges on lower fins
Sturgeon
Sturgeon
  • Mainly bottom dweller, found inshore and in large river systems
  • Maximum length/weight: 6 m, 600 kg
  • Long nose, projecting mouth, whiskers near tip of snout. Armour-like plates instead of scales
  • Catch and release fishing only

Sturgeon are a cartilaginous, almost prehistoric-looking fish that can grow to six meters long and weigh over 600 kg.

Their elongate body usually ranges from greenish grey on the back to light grey or white on the belly. Instead of scales, their bodies have five rows of large armour-like plates know as scutes. They have long noses and projecting mouths, located on the lower part of the head, accompanied by four fleshy whiskers known as barbels.

There are two species of sturgeon in B.C., the white sturgeon and the green sturgeon. Both occur along the coast in inshore waters and in medium to larger river systems. When observed, green sturgeon, the rarer and smaller of the species, are usually encountered further offshore.

Related links

Shellfish

Shellfish include all aquatic invertebrates: clams, cockles, crabs, mussels, oysters, prawns, scallops, sea urchins, and shrimp. Octopus, sea cucumbers and squid are also managed as shellfish in British Columbia.

Butter, littleneck, manila and varnish clams can be found in gravel and sand beaches in protected bays.

Razor clams live on wave-swept sand beaches open to the Pacific Ocean.

Species name Identifying features
Butter clamButter clam

Butter clam

  • Large, thick-shelled with well developed concentric ridges but no radial lines.
Geoduck clamGeoduck clam

Geoduck clam

  • Geoduck clams are bivalves, and have two shells that are white and somewhat rectangular in shape
  • Their equal-sized valves do not conceal their enormous siphon (neck), which is white to reddish-brown in colour
  • Geoduck clams are the largest burrowing clams in the world, with a shell length that can exceed 20 centimetres
  • They generally weigh between 0.5 and 1.5 kilograms, but, occasionally, grow as large as 3 kilograms
  • Geoducks are slow-growing and long-lived, with maximum ages of at least 168 years
Littleneck clamLittleneck clam

Littleneck clam

  • Lines up and across outer shell surface, round, white shell interior
Manila clamManila clam

Manila clam

  • Lines up and across outer shell surface, elongated, purple shell interior
Varnish clamVarnish clam

Varnish clam

  • Shiny brown covering on outer shell surface, round, large external ligament at hinge
Razor clamRazor clam

Razor clam

  • Shiny brown covering on outer shell surface, oblong
Blue musselBlue mussel

Blue mussel

  • Bluish-black shell, distinctive “D” or flattened teardrop shape
  • Pearly violet or white shell interior
Pacific OysterPacific oyster

Pacific Oyster

  • Large. Thick shell, rough sculptured appearance
  • Shell colour varies: the outside is a combination of browns, greens and grays, often with sharp purple fluting near the edges
  • The interior is white and satin smooth
  • The two shells of the oyster are held together by a ligament at the hinge and a large adductor muscle
  • The main species cultured in southern B.C.
Olympia oysterOlympia oyster

Olympia oyster

  • Small. Length up to 9 cm but usually not over 5 cm. Illegal to keep. Only native oyster on B.C. coast
  • Large clusters once existed in the Strait of Georgia, however only small groupings have survived.
  • Now small groupings, mainly at a few sites on west coast of Vancouver Island.
  • Little information on Olympia populations in Johnstone Strait or B.C.’s central and north coasts
  • It is illegal to keep Olympia oysters
AbaloneAbalone

Abalone

  • Thin, oval shell with irregular reddish or greenish upper surface
  • Shell sometimes marked with blue or white. Often encrusted with organisms
  • Iridescent white shell interior with faint pink and green sheen
  • Series of three to six raised holes to allow water currents to pass over gills
  • Northern abalone is listed as endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. It is illegal to fish for abalone, to harm or harass them or to possess any abalone or part of abalone, including the shell.

ShrimpShrimp

Shrimp

  • Coonstripe shrimp: Red-brown. Irregular brown and white oblique lines on shell and abdomen. Found in shallow water on or near pilings and floats
  • Humpback shrimp: Red-tan. Dark red and bright white markings. Found on soft or hard bottom
  • Pink shrimp: Uniform translucent red. Live on soft bottom
PrawnPrawn

Prawn

  • Red. White horizontal bars on shell, at least two pairs of white spots on abdomen
  • Found in rocky areas
  • Largest shrimp in B.C., up to 25 cm
SquidSquid

Squid

  • Soft-bodied swimmer. Muscular tube (mantle) has fins at narrow end, contains internal organs
  • Mantle supports head (with large eyes), arms, two feeding tentacles with suckers and sometimes hooks on ends
  • Opal squid: Pale lavender. Size: up to 13 cm in B.C. Found in inshore waters. Often gather in large schools to spawn in shallow water
  • Neon flying squid: Mauve on upper surface, silvery or gold below. Tentacle sucker rings have 4 large teeth with many smaller teeth between. Size: up to 100 cm, 5 kg
  • Humboldt squid: Brown or red. Size: up to 200 cm, 45 kg
Crab
Identification of female Dungeness or Red Rock crabs Identification of female Dungeness or Red Rock crabs

How to identify a crab

  • 3 to 4 pairs of walking legs
  • 1 pair of claws for feeding and defence
  • Female carries egg clusters on underside of body

Crab sex is determined by looking at the abdomen shape

  • Female’s abdomen has a wide “beehive” shape
  • Male’s abdomen has a narrow “lighthouse” shape

It is illegal to possess female Dungeness or red rock crabs.

Species Characteristics
Dungeness crabDungeness crab

Dungeness crab

  • Gray-brown back, yellow underneath
  • White-tipped claws
Redrock crabRedrock crab

Redrock crab

  • Brick red back, white underneath
  • Black-tipped claws
European green crabEuropean green crab

European green crab

  • Adult size: up to 10 cm
  • Shell serrated and trapezoid-shaped, with three spines between the eyes and five on each side
  • Colour variable: green, red or yellow
  • European green crab is an invasive species.
    If you find one in BC you should:

    • Take photos of it
    • Note the exact location (GPS coordinates)
    • Report it at:
      Toll free : 1-888-356-7525
      AISPACIFIC@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
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