Black Sea Bass, Centropristis striata

The black sea bass or the Centropristis striata is a saltwater grouper fish found more commonly in the northern ranges than in the southern ranges. It can be found near the coasts of Maine down to Northeast Florida and around to the Gulf of Mexico. The fish spread from the bays and sounds to offshore in deep waters. The black sea bass has been found in waters as deep as 425 feet. They group and hover around rocks, wrecks, jetties and pilings on the sea floor. The three largest groups or populations can be found off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, Chesapeake Bay and New York.

As far as the appearance of the black sea bass, they have a flat head on top with a pointed snout and superior set eyes. Their mouth is oblong to match the snout. They have rounded caudal and pectoral fins with continuous spiny portions with soft rays on the dorsal fin. Just past the dorsal fin is the anal fin which is round in shape with the height greater than length. Large scales cover the black fish up to the head. Some males can develop fatty bumps anterior to the dorsal fin. The black sea bass grows up to 19.7 inches length and reaches maturity at 7.5 inches. At maturity the bass can spawn with incubation periods as short as 1.6 days. The black sea bass is a protogynous hermaphrodite which means that when they mature they are females but with time they develop into males in correlation to the size. They are typically between 9 and 13 inches when the change occurs. They can be found off the shores of New Jersey during May and then they move offshore in late October or early November for the winter.

The black sea bass spends its time in leisure on the bottom of on top of other structures able to rest with its head up or down. It moves rather slowly but is agile enough to enter very small caves by being able to angle its body at 40 degrees. The fact that its dorsal fin is folded close to their body also assists the fish maneuver.

Even with the minimum size allowed to be kept being 13 inches in New York, the black sea bass has been so overfished by recreational and commercial fisherman. Efforts have been made to rebuild the population in the mid-Atlantic but the south-Atlantic still suffers.

Kingdom:Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii Order: Percififormes Family: Serranidae

Image Credit: Maryland Fish Facts