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Giant (Black) Sea Bass

Jeffrey Bozanic

Common Name
Giant (Black) Sea Bass

Scientific Name
Stereolepis gigas

Kelp forests and deep, rocky reefs.

Conservation Status
There is no formal conservation status, but fishing is prohibited in California.

Additional Information
This gentle giant is the largest and most magnificent species of fish in the kelp forest. They are capable of growing to lengths of over 7 feet and weighing 750 pounds! Adults are dark brown to black with large dark spots and a light belly. It is believed that they have the ability to alter their spot pattern at will. As carnivores, they eat many things including Pacific mackerel, shrimp, small sharks, crabs, lobster, anchovies, and squid.

Prior to the 1950’s, this species of bony fish was very common to the near shore waters of Southern California. Due to over-fishing, their population was reduced to critically low levels. In 1982, both commercial and sport fishing of Giant Black Sea Bass was banned in California waters. Since then, the populations have been steadily recovering and encounters by divers are becoming more common.

Did You Know?

Painted Cave, Santa Cruz Island

Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island is one of the world’s largest known sea caves. The cave measures 1215 feet in length (the size of more than four football fields), has a 160 foot entrance, and is almost 100 feet wide.