Perhaps you’re one of those people who is shocked when you see a picture of a fisherman holding a dead giant sea bass because you didn’t anticipate that the delicate, flaky white fish you’ve enjoyed grilled was so massive when alive. Surprised or not, whoever you are — fish-eater or diver or snorkeler — UCSB researchers are asking you to get into the ocean and count giant sea bass during the first week in August.
The fish — which weigh at least 600 pounds when fully grown and are just smaller than swordfish — were over-fished in the 1960s. In the 80s, a statewide ban prohibited their catch, and populations are now coming back, said UCSB researcher Dr. Milton Love. Throughout his extensive work in the marine world, Love realized no one has actually attempted to count how many giant sea bass — also called black sea bass — exist off the coast of Southern California.
So Love decided to organize a count. Divers are asked to record their date and start time, the exact longitude and latitude of their location, the surrounding habitat, bottom time, and the number of fish observed. The team will collect divers’ reports and synthesize them to complete their work.
“We’re trying to ask the question, ‘What is the minimum number?’ We don’t know the maximum, but we want to know the minimum,” explained Love, who penned Certainly More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast.
California State University Northridge researchers will also work on the project. More information is available on a Facebook page, the Giant Sea Bass Collective.