Spotlight on Student Research
Brian (J.R.) Clark is studying the mating behaviors of giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas). The giant sea bass is the largest bony fish to inhabit the California kelp forest community. Giants have been targeted for both recreational and commercial fishing since the late 1800’s, causing numbers to dwindle to the point that they are now on the IUCN Red List as a critically endangered species. Gill nets near shore have been banned, and line fishing for giants has been limited, so giants are now returning to southern California waters. Remarkably little is known about the life history and behavior of giant sea bass. J.R.’s research on courtship is revealing when, where and how mating occurs. At the Wrigley Marine Science Center, J.R. made daily SCUBA observations at the historical spawning aggregation site off Goat Harbor. He conducted surveys of giant density morning, afternoon and evening, recording behaviors on HD video. Giant sea basswere most abundant at Goat Harbor during the afternoon time slot. J.R. learned to sex the species and observed how courting proceeds when fish are in pairs. Soon, J.R. will be describing spawning both visually and acoustically. A thorough understanding of giant sea bass reproductive behavior is essential for the future effective management of this recovering endangered species. more Spotlights...