Close Encounter of the Giant Kind

Our assistant manager, Andy Rios, came face to face with this 400+ pound black sea bass and captured these amazing shots. This gentle giant came within one foot and remained close… So close that you can see the copepods and the battle scars on the face. Such an amazing encounter.

June to September is their mating season, which means we are in the peak season for giant sea bass sightings. A few years ago, we saw a school of more than 30 individuals on one of our dives at the back side of Anacapa Island.

Black sea bass (stereolepis gigas), also known as giant sea bass, are the largest fish we see in the California’s kelp forest. These fish were once abundant in California, but they were hunted to near extinction. In California, protection from commercial and sport fishing has been in effect since 1982. Unfortunately, both commercial and recreational fishing of these majestic fish are still legal in Mexico. The total breeding population in 2018 is estimated to be around only 500 individuals. There has been increased sightings by divers in recent years, but there is no hard data to support a significant increase in population. Let's hope the continued protection of these majestic fish, combined with other marine environment conservation efforts, will lead to increase in their population.

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