The Black Kelp Greenling of the Pacific Northwest
The Kelp Greenling is quite often caught by recreational fishers in the waters along the pacific northwest coast.
As you can see from the photos, the female is freckled all over with small, reddish brown to golden spots on a gray to brownish background and the fins are a yellowish orange. Males are gray to brownish olive, with irregular blue spots on the front half of their bodies. These spots are surrounded by small rings that are a reddish brown.
The inside of the mouth is yellow in both sexes. There is quite often a spot that looks like an eye at the end of the soft dorsal fin, just in front of the tail. They have up to 5 lateral lines and two fleshy cirri, one just above the eye and one small one midway between the eye and the dorsal fin. The anal fin comes equipped with one small spine.
They can reach up to 53 cm in length and about 2 kilos in weight. They have a life expectancy of about 25 years.
Greenlings can be found from Alaska to California including all the waters along the BC coastal Region. They are found in rocky inshore areas and are common in kelp beds and on sand bottoms from the shoreline shallows down to 50 meters deep.
Kelp greenling feed on crustaceans, brittle stars, mollusks and any other small fish they can fit into their mouths on. Kelp greenling are in turn are feed for large predators such as lingcod and halibut and the smaller ones are often eaten by salmon and steelhead.
Kelp greenling lay their eggs in October to November, the female lays a large cluster that can contain up to 4,000 eggs. Several females will lay their eggs in the same nest and a male will care for them. Male greenling are very protective of the nest and eggs and will protect them aggressively, they will stand guard until the eggs hatch and the young swim away to make a life of their own.