The black sea bass is a ray-finned marine fish that belongs to the Serranidae subfamily, which is part of the Serranidae family, which also contains groupers and anthias. It may be found in the western Atlantic Ocean and is a valuable commercial and leisure fishery. Black sea bass migrates seasonally in the Mid-Atlantic when water temperatures fluctuate. In the spring, they migrate to inshore coastal areas and bays, and in the fall, they travel offshore.

The black sea bass navigating through the water

They live on stony bottoms near reefs, wrecks, oyster bars, pilings, and jetties, and are bottom-dwellers. They mature between the ages of two and three years. Between the ages of two and five, the majority of them start out as females and then transform into males. The black sea bass can be found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to the Florida Keys, and in the Gulf of Mexico as far as Louisiana, where the western limit is just west of the Mississippi Delta.

Body Description

The body of the black sea bass is elongated and laterally compressed. It has a huge mouth with bands of teeth on the jaw, a triangular patch of teeth in the front section of the roof of the mouth, and more teeth along the sides of that area, the mouth reaching to below the middle of the eye. The preopercle is equally spherical and contains fine serrations on its border, while the gill cover has three flat spines.

There are ten spines on the dorsal fin, with the front ones being longer than the back ones, and 11 soft rays. The membranes that connect the dorsal fin’s spines are deeply notched. Three spines and seven soft rays make up the anal fin.

The long and pointed top, middle, and lower rays form three lobes on the caudal fin. On the back and upper body, the color pattern is usually smoky grey, dark brown, or blue-black, fading towards the underside. The juveniles come in four different color phases: an overall light grey with small dark spots, a dark phase with pale white dots, a striped phase with a longitudinal dark stripe, and a barred phase with six vertical bars.

A black sea bass changing it sex

Black sea bass grows over time, reaching a maximum size of 2 feet and 9 pounds. The larger black sea bass is normally black, but the smaller ones are a dusky brown. The belly button is a shade lighter than the sides. A sequence of white patches and bars is visible on the dorsal fin. Dominant males glow brilliant blue and develop a blue bulge on their heads during spawning.

The black sea bass can be found in the western Atlantic Ocean from Nova Scotia to the Florida Keys, and in the Gulf of Mexico as far as Louisiana, where the western limit is just west of the Mississippi Delta.

Habitat

Black sea bass can be found in shallow water among rock jetties and across rocky surfaces, but they have also been seen in deeper, offshore areas to depths of 130 meters. They spend the majority of their time near the bottom, where they congregate around things such as rock heaps, wrecks, and man-made structures. It can be found resting in both a head-down and a head-up position.

Normally, the dorsal fin is folded down, but as an aggressive signal to other members of its own species, it is lifted and spread out. The juveniles are found among man-made structures, wrecks, and over-shell substrates in protected estuarine areas.

The black sea bass with a diver in the water

Reproduction

This is a slow-growing fish that reaches sexual maturity between the ages of one and three. They are protogynous hermaphrodites, which means they start out as females and subsequently transform into males. The cause of the transformation is unknown, however, it is hypothesized that the largest females change sex in response to a lack of males in their spawning group.

From January through July, these fish spawn, with smaller females producing as few as 30,000 eggs and larger females producing up to 500,000 eggs. Their eggs are pelagic in nature. Males assemble a group of females with whom they will mate and fiercely defend their area.

Diet

Crabs, shrimp, worms, tiny fish, and clams are among the prey items consumed by black sea bass. Females can live to be eight years old, while males can live to be twelve.

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