The Golden Tilefish fishery at Viking Village while no longer predominant, is nonetheless, significant. In the late 1970's Viking Village was acclaimed as the "Tilefish Capital of the World", the fishery having been pioneered by the dock's owners, Capts. Lou Puskas and John Larson.
Tilefish are deepwater bottom dwelling fish and in our area, are caught in offshore canyons with longlines set on the ocean floor. Currently, we have a few of boats fishing part time for Golden Tilefish.
•Geographic range: Along the outer continental shelf and upper continental slope of the entire east coast of the United States and the Gulf of Mexico. They are most abundant from Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, south to Cape May, New Jersey.
•Habitat: Waters from 250 to 1,500 feet deep where bottom temperatures range from 49 to 58º F. Individual tilefish are found in and around submarine canyons where they burrow in the sediment. They are most common over mud or sand bottom and sometimes concentrate in small groups or pods.
•Life span: Long-lived, with of maximum observed age of 46 years (females) and 39 years (males). Radiocarbon aging indicates that tilefish may live for as long as 50 years.
•Food: Tilefish feed during the day on the bottom on shrimp, crabs, clams, snails, worms, anemones, and sea cucumbers.
•Growth rate: Slow
•Maximum size: Female tilefish are smaller than males. Females can reach a maximum length of 43 inches while males can reach a maximum of 45 inches. The average size tilefish harvested from the northeast Atlantic throughout the Gulf of Mexico is 24 inches.
•Reaches reproductive maturity: At about 20 inches in length and 3 pounds in weight; around 5 to 6 years in age.
•Reproduction: Females produce from 2 to 8 million pelagic eggs. Tilefish are thought to be gonochoristic (remaining as females or males throughout their entire lifetime), however recent research has concluded that tilefish in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico are protogynous hermaphrodites (beginning life as females and transitioning into males).
•Spawning season: March through November (Mid and South Atlantic) and January – June (Gulf of Mexico); peaks in June (mid-Atlantic) and April (South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico)
•Spawning grounds: Little information is known about where tilefish spawn; spawning individuals have been collected from mud or sand bottom at depths of 620 to 985 feet.
•Predators: Monkfish, spiny dogfish, congor eels, large bottom-dwelling sharks like dusky and sandbar sharks, and most importantly, other tilefish.
•Commercial or recreational interest: Both
•Distinguishing characteristics: The golden tilefish is easily distinguishable from other members of the family Malacanthidae by its large adipose flap, or crest, on the head. In fact, male tilefish can be distinguished from female tilefish because this flap is larger on males. The species is blue-green and iridescent on the back, with numerous spots of bright yellow and gold. The belly is white and the head is rosy, with blue under the eyes. The pectoral fins are sepia-colored, and the margin of the anal fin is purplish-blue.