In the summertime, I always hope to see the Giant Black Sea Bass that swim along in the coastal waters of Southern California. The first time I saw one, I didn’t know how special the sighting was. I swam right up to it, snapped its picture with my point-and-shoot camera, and swam off looking for something else to photograph. It was four years before I saw one again. And that was from a distance. But last week I got a real treat. I was looking for the Giant fish in water that was a bit murky. I thought, “I’ll just go down by that rock and see if there is anything down there.” It turns out, the “rock” was a Giant Black Sea Bass. He didn’t seem to mind my presence, and let me snap around 50 images over 20 minutes before he moved in to deeper water.
These fish can grow to be more than 7 feet long and up to 800 pounds. This one was around 6 feet and 200 pounds. They are so large that when fully grown, their only predator is the great white shark and humans. They were hunted by humans almost to extinction in Southern California waters, until they became a protected species in 1982. Now they seem to be on the rebound, but you have to keep your eyes open and have a good bit of luck to see one.
An interesting thing about this fish is that it can cause its spots to come and go. But when it is dead, it appears very dark or black all over (thus the name, Giant Black Sea Bass.)
When these fish are in their first year, they transform from a black fish to a bright orange fish looking little like a Giant Sea Bass at all. But as they mature, they take on the characteristic coloring with large spots that is seen in the images above.
If you are scuba diving in Southern California in the summer months, a good place to see these fish is at Catalina Island, Santa Barbara Island or Anacapa Island. They are sometimes seen near shore as well.