Bank Sea Bass
Rockfish (misnomer), Rock Squirrel
Bank sea bass are easily recognized by their large mouths, tapering bodies with tri-lobed caudal fins, and by their color. Unlike the black sea bass, the bank sea bass is yellow-brown overall, and is marked with black blotches and spots. The black markings consist of three longitudinal rows of blotches on the sides in addition to spots on the dorsal and caudal fins. The head, fins, and front portion of the body often have blue and yellow spots and stripes.
Found in waters ranging from 50-500 feet, the bank sea bass is usually associated with hard-bottom habitats and high-relief areas in deeper waters. They are distributed from Virginia to the Yucatan Banks, and live up to seven years, reaching lengths of 10.7 inches. Nearly all individuals of this species begin life as females and change to males as they age and grow. (This hermaphrodism is found in many fish species.) Collections suggest that fertile females spawn offshore in the early spring, usually for the first time when they are 2 or 3 years old. A 4-inch fish is capable of spawning over four-thousand pelagic eggs during one season, and a fish twice the size may lay about thirty-thousand. The bank sea bass is an opportunistic carnivore that uses its large mouth to swallow crabs, shrimp, brittle stars, callico scallops and small fish.
South Atlantic Federal Regulations
This species is designated as an "Ecosystem Component Species" and is not subject to management measures but is included in the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Unit. Permitting, gear, and other regulations (i.e., landing intact) apply.