Quillback rockfish are appropriately named for the row of large, sharp spines along their dorsal fin. Besides having sharp quills, the quillback can survive a long time out of water. Caught as bycatch, these quillbacks can suddenly spring back to life and stab fishermen with their sharp spines. Glands at the base of each spine secrete painful venom. Although the venom is not deadly, a poorly cared for injury from a quillback may cause blood poisoning.
The quillback is a long-lived fish, living up to 95 years. Like other rockfish, they have difficulty surviving if caught from a deep depth due to sudden pressure changes.