Length - Maximum of approx. < 1 – 2 feet
Weight - Maximum of approx. 3 – 10 lbs.
Black sea bass inhabit the waters along the Eastern United States from Maine to Florida, and populate the Gulf of Mexico from the panhandle of Florida all the way through Texas.
These bottom dwellers prefer rocky habitat at depths of over 400 feet. However, they can also be found in inshore bays. Black sea bass often aggregate around rock piles, man made reefs, wrecks, bridge-pilings, and oil rigs.
The black sea bass is an opportunistic predator, and will often feed on crabs, worms, shrimp, clams, and small fish.
Black sea bass are protogynous hermaphrodites, meaning that most juveniles and young adults are female, and as they grow larger they transition to being male. These hardy fish spawn in coastal waters from winter through early summer, and during their spawning season, males will develop a substantial blue hump on their heads. Living for over 10 years, the larger males will bring together a large group of females, and aggressively defend the territory from other males. During the spawning season female black sea bass can produce anywhere from 50,000 to 500,000 eggs.
Importance to Fisheries and Aquaculture:
The black sea bass is very popular amongst recreational and commercial fishermen. Due to this demand this species is particularly prone to overfishing. As such, management has set quotas to help reduce the occurrence of overfishing. Furthermore, researchers at the University of North Carolina Wilmington have developed technology for producing black sea bass under aquaculture. These technologies prove quite useful in any future stock enhancement efforts or even in aquaculture production to offset the pressures of consumer demand on wild stocks.
The United States is the only source for this highly valued and delicious fish.
The largest black sea bass recorded was caught in Virginia in 2000. This fish weighed in at 10 lb. 4 oz.