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Aquarium of the Pacific - Online Learning Center - Species Print Sheet

Conservation Status:  Least concern

Aquatic SpeciesWhite Sea Bass

Atractoscion nobilis Bony Fishes, marine

White Sea Bass swimming in front of rocks | Ken Kurtis/Aquarium of the Pacific
White Sea Bass swimming in front of rocks - popup
Ken Kurtis/Aquarium of the Pacific

Species In-Depth | Print full entry

At the Aquarium

White sea bass can be found in the Honda Blue Cavern exhibit in the Aquarium’s Great Hall.

Geographic Distribution

These fish live along the eastern Pacific coastline, from Baja California, Mexico, to Juneau, Alaska, and in the Gulf of California.

Habitat

White sea bass live in saltwater and brackish water. They are usually found in schools and prefer deep rocky or soft bottoms up to 400 feet (122 meters) deep. This species also frequents kelp forest environments.

Physical Characteristics

White sea bass are moderately elongate in shape and generally have a bluish or gray color on their dorsal side and silver-colored ventral side. They have a large mouth with a slightly protruding lower jaw. Two dorsal fins are present. The pectoral fins are attached to the thorax and are slightly posterior to the pelvic fins. Their fins have a yellowish color. White sea bass have a unique ridge that runs along their underbelly. Males and females are indistinguishable from one another. Juveniles have three to six dark vertical stripes and show countershading.

Size

Adults can grow to be between 24 and 60 inches (61 to 152 centimeters) long and weigh up to 90 pounds (41 kilograms).

Diet

These fish are secondary and tertiary predators of small fish, including anchovies, sardines, and mackerel. They may also feed on mollusks such as squid, and marine worms, crustaceans, and other marine invertebrates. Juveniles feed almost exclusively on mysid shrimp.

Reproduction

White sea bass can mate up to five or six times per year. They can mate several times with multiple partners. There are no outward features to distinguish males from females. Mating takes place from spring to early summer. They are broadcast spawners, which means that eggs and sperm are simply released into the water column. Females can release as many as 1.5 million eggs per spawning. Eggs develop in the water column and after several months hatch into tiny fry. Once the eggs are fertilized, the adults do not provide any care or protection of the young.

Behavior

White sea bass are typically found in schools as adults. Young seek out calm water of shallow bays and often find refuge in eelgrass beds. Adults migrate north as water temperatures warm during summer months and during El Niño events.

Adaptation

Preyed upon by sharks, sea lions, and humans, the white sea bass has evolved cryptic coloration in the form of camouflage and countershading. Strategies such as schooling behavior and production of large numbers of offspring also increase chances of this species’ survival.

Longevity

White sea bass can live up to twelve to twenty years.

Conservation

White sea bass are listed as a species of Least Concern by IUCN.