The intention of this guide is to be a field reference to the fishes captured during the various Fishery Resource Analysis and Monitoring Division (FRAM) West Coast surveys. Scientific and technical terms have been kept to a minimum and, when used, are defined within the text. Descriptions and distribution are confined to those species within the geographic (U.S.–Canada to U.S.–Mexico borders) and depth (30–1,680 m) parameters of the FRAM West Coast surveys. Many of the fishes described have geographic and/or depth ranges that extend outside of the survey parameters. Distributions include these areas and are described by political boundaries (e.g., state and/or country borders), bodies of water (i.e., the northeastern Pacific, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Columbia River, etc.), islands and/or major geographical features (i.e., the Hawaiian, Farallon, and Channel Islands, Cape Flattery, Point Conception, etc.).
Conducted aboard small commercial vessels with limited personnel and space, the majority of the FRAM West Coast surveys do not have access to wet/dry lab facilities for detailed observations. Due to a variety of factors such as body size and specimen damage, internal meristic counts (i.e., vertebrae or pyloric caeca), and others that cannot be made with the naked eye, identification of some groups of fishes included in this text are treated only to the family or generic level. The species accounts are in scientific order as much as possible. The list of common and scientific names are in the List of Species. Photographs are provided when available. The family and species keys are for the families/species within the guide. However, some species not known from within the scope of this work may have been included to complete a couplet.