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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fish Bulletin 156. The Venom Apparatus of California Rockfishes (Family Scorpaenidae)


The family Scorpaenidae contains more known venomous fishes than any other bony fish family. The venom apparatus of an American representative of this family, the California sculpin or scorpionfish, has been described previously by several authors.

The rockfish genus Sebastes is represented in California waters by over 50 species. Several species of Sebastes from European and Asiatic waters are known to possess a venom apparatus, but no previously published literature describes such an apparatus in American rockfishes. The gross anatomy of the spines, pelvic girdle, and musculature and the microscopic anatomy of the spines, associated venom glands, and integument in the brown rockfish, Sebastes auriculatus, are described.

The microscopic anatomy of the spines and venom glands in five other species of Sebastes is described and compared to that of the brown rockfish. The presence of venom tissue in at least one dorsal spine of eight additional species of Sebastes is reported.

Symptoms resulting from human envenomation by several species of Sebastes are described and compared to those resulting from the stings of other scorpaenids.

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