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Spotted Ratfish

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Spotted Ratfish

Picture by: Florian Graner, Sealife Productions Picture taken on: June 2nd, 2010

Tags: sculpin fish fishwatch

The spotted ratfish is found in the eastern Pacific Ocean from Cape Spencer, Alaska (US) south to VizcaĆ­no, Baja California (Mexico). It is most common between British Columbia and southern California. An isolated population of spotted ratfish has been documented in the northern portion of the Gulf of California. Although the spotted ratfish is not a targeted species, it is taken as bycatch by commercial trawl fisheries and recreational fishers. It is generally avoided due to the tendency of the dorsal spine to become tangled in fishing nets. It is rarely landed in its more southern distribution range due to its occurrence at depths greater than (180 m). Due to its wide distribution and depth range, it is believed that the impact of the fisheries is minimal. However, the spotted ratfish has the potential to become threatened by inshore trawling activities. Although this species is considered a "trash fish" and has never been of commercial interest, it may become targeted in the future as other more desirable species become depleted. Although not considered dangerous to humans, care is needed when handling this fish due to the dorsal venomous spine that can cause painful wounds. Care should also be taken when handling male specimens due to the presence of sharp clasping organs.