Vermilion rockfish are kelp forest royalty.
Their regal robes of red and glimpses of gallant grey, revealed in this photo by the diver’s lights, are in fact a disguise for vermilions in deeper waters, where the revealing reds of the distant sun have already been absorbed by the ocean above.
Historically overfished, vermilions are recovering thanks in part to California’s system of Marine Protected Areas. This photo was taken at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, a marine reserve since 1960 where large vermilion rockfish are commonly seen by divers.
Vermilions can live to be over 60 years old, and though the age of this magnificent fish is unknown, long may it reign in this protected realm, firmly seated in a throne reserved for the kelp forest’s most resplendent rulers.
Photobombing Kelp Rockfish has some notes