Black sea bass (Centroprostos striata) inhabit Atlantic coastal waters from the Gulf of Maine to the Florida Keys, concentrating in the area between Cape Cod and Cape Canaveral. Two distinct stocks exist with overlapping ranges. The northern stock migrates seasonally and spawns off of New England in the late summer. A temperate reef fish, black sea bass commonly inhabit rock bottoms near pilings, wrecks and jetties. They rely on their large mouth and swift ocean currents to catch prey, which usually include fish, crabs, mussels, and razor clams. Black sea bass summer in northern inshore waters at depths of less than 120 feet and winter in southern offshore waters at depths of 240 to 520 feet. They are fairly stout-bodied fish, with a long dorsal (top) and pectoral (side) fins. The rounded tail sometimes has a long streamer trailing out from the top edge. Each gill cover has a flat spine near the outer edge. Mature males have a fleshy dorsal hump just anterior to the dorsal fin. The background color of the black sea bass is mottled with darker patches and light speckles. The dorsal fin is marked with whitish mottling. While all other fins have dark spots, young sea bass are green or brown with a dark lateral stripe running from the head to the tail. When black sea bass are in their environment they usually have a black and white striping pattern but when they come out of the water or become stressed they turn all black. If you have ever done one of our programs in the downstairs classroom you have seen our resident black sea bass that has a 180-gallon tank all to himself. Three years ago we caught him by accident in one of the crab traps we have off the side of our docks. His dorsal and pectoral fins were slightly damaged so we decided to take him in and see if we could re habilitate him back to 100%. It did not take the sea bass long to get comfortable in the first large tank we have. He was soon swimming around and eating all of the killies and silversides that were in the tank. His fins started looking healthier and he grew quickly. Soon we had to move him into the brand-new 400-gallon aquarium we had built with a few other fish. Unfortunately, we did not cycle the water in the tank quickly enough and the ammonia/nitrates level got too high due to high amounts of fish waste, putting stress on the organisms. To remedy this, we removed the largest fish, the sea bass, and put him in the tank that he is currently in. That solved the problem. The tanks have all cycled and are very stable, and all of the fish in their respective aquaria are doing well. We will be most likely releasing the black sea bass this fall back into the harbor, now that he has healed and matured. If you have not had a chance to see him, please come on down and take a look one last time before he heads back to West Harbor and Long Island Sound.