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Barred Sand Bass

Scientific Name: Paralabrax nebulifer

Distribution: Central California (Santa Cruz) to Baja California.

Habitat: Found from the surf zone to 600 ft (183 m). Found frequently in 148 ft (45 m) of water or less. Barred sand bass are found near sand, kelp, and structure.

Behavior: Barred sand bass are commonly found near the interface of rock and sand habitats. Area use of these fish varies by location and may be due to differences in habitat. Home range sizes for barred sand bass tracked at the Palos Verdes Shelf , Santa Catalina Island, and the Los Angeles Federal Breakwall were 7.2 acres (29,187 m2), 2.5 acres (10,003 m2), and 0.74 acres (3,000 m2), respectively. Like other bass species, barred sand bass form spawning aggregations and migrate to these areas during spawning season. Barred sand bass tagged on the Palos Verdes Shelf were found to migrate up to 15.5 miles (25 km) to spawning sites within the Huntington Flats. Barred sand bass eat a variety of organisms, including crustaceans, octopus, and fishes.

Why it is important: While the commercial fishery for barred sand bass was banned in 1953, the species is still an important recreational fishery in southern California and remains to be one of the favorite catches among anglers. Studying this species has become crucial in recent years due to the severe population declines both in 2005-06 and 2012-14. Spawning aggregations have also broken down at traditional spawning sites since 2013, and are worrisome for fisheries managers. Barred sand bass are also a species listed under OEHHA’s consumption guidelines for southern California due to contamination. Studying their movements can be used to assess current fishing guidelines and consumption advisory zones to determine if these zones do protect the public from contaminated fish.

Sources: FishBase, CDFW 2001 (Status Report), Love 2011, Lowe 2013 (EPA Fish Tracking Report), Teesdale et al. 2015

Quick Facts

Scientific Name: Paralabrax nebulifer

Conservation Status (IUCN): Least Concern

Lifespan: 24 years

Age at Maturity: Females 5 years; Males 4 years

Maximum Weight: 13.2 lbs (6 kg)

Speed: Unknown

Maximum Length: 2.5 ft (76 cm)

Habitat: Bays, lagoons, enclosed embayments, open coast

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