Aquarium of the Pacific plans for release of hundreds of endangered giant sea bass in local ocean waters

California State University, Northridge (CSUN), the non-profit Aquarium of the Pacific, and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium are pleased to announce the success of a joint effort involving raising and releasing juvenile giant sea bass into the ocean. Giant sea bass are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. Their populations are believed to be increasing slowly after years of decline.

“The Aquarium of the Pacific is proud to directly contribute to enhancing wild populations of giant sea bass by investing in this critically endangered species’ culture and care. This iconic Southern California species is key to healthy kelp forest ecosystems and is a wonder to behold,” said Aquarium of the Pacific Vice President of Animal Husbandry Dr. Sandy Trautwein.

In the past giant sea bass have been notoriously difficult to breed in an aquarium setting. The Aquarium of the Pacific was the first public aquarium to successfully hatch and raise a baby giant sea bass in 2016. That fish, named Yutaka, is now on view in the Aquarium’s Amber Forest exhibit near its parents, which have lived in the Aquarium’s Honda Blue Cavern exhibit since its opening in 1998.

After this initial success, the Aquarium of the Pacific’s husbandry staff planned a regional meeting to gather aquarium professionals and local researchers who had been working with giant sea bass, and multiple partnerships were formed between universities, aquariums, and government agencies. The Aquarium of the Pacific hosted its second Giant Sea Bass Symposium on February 18, 2020.

For this current project, CSUN shared giant sea bass eggs last summer with the Aquarium of the Pacific and Cabrillo Marine Aquarium to attempt to produce offspring. The Aquarium of the Pacific and the Cabrillo Aquarium were able to successfully rear baby giant sea bass babies from these eggs. The Cabrillo Aquarium used new techniques developed by their animal care team.

The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium produced over 300 juvenile giant sea bass raised in the Aquatic Nursery, an Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ award-winning laboratory space dedicated to raising young sea animals and young scientists. Half of those giant sea bass were brought to the Aquarium of the Pacific in late 2019 as both partners prepared for the release of the fish. The new methods for raising giant sea bass were immensely successful, and the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium believes these techniques may end up having further reaching implications if applied as a model for growing other endangered species of marine fishes.

The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium has shared many of its aquarium-raised giant sea bass with aquariums across the country to teach aquarium visitors about this intriguing species and share the animal’s story, both as a warning to the dangers of overfishing and to demonstrate the potential success of species protection and aquaculture efforts.

The young fish will all be released into the wild with approval from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Divers from both aquariums will release several hundred fish into the ocean at a time on two trips, the first of which has already been completed. The release location will be kept confidential among the project partners, allowing the young fish to acclimate to their new home. Divers, fishers, or others who see giant sea bass in the ocean are encouraged to take a photo and upload it to a citizen science website developed by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who are working to track individual giant sea bass. To learn more or submit your photos, visit spottinggiantseabass.msi.ucsb.edu.

Aquarium of the Pacific
The nonprofit Aquarium of the Pacific is a community gathering place where diverse cultures and the arts are celebrated and where important challenges facing our planet are explored by scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders in search of sustainable solutions.

The Aquarium is dedicated to conserving and building nature and nature’s services by building the interactions between and among peoples. Home to more than 12,000 animals, Aquarium exhibits include the new Pacific Visions wing, Ocean Science Center, Molina Animal Care Center, and the Tentacles and Ink and FROGS: Dazzling & Disappearing exhibits.

Beyond its animal exhibits, the Aquarium offers educational programs for people of all ages, from hands-on activities to lectures by leading scientists. Field trips for schoolchildren are offered at a heavily discounted rate, from $7 to $8.50 per student. The Aquarium offers memberships with unlimited FREE admission for 12 months, VIP Entrance, and other special benefits. Convenient parking is available for $8 with Aquarium validation.

California State University, Northridge (CSUN)
One of the largest universities in the country, California State University, Northridge (CSUN) is an urban, comprehensive university that delivers award-winning undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 40,000 students annually and counts nearly 370,000 alumni who fuel the region’s economy. Since its founding in 1958, CSUN has made a significant and long-term economic impact on California, generating nearly $1.9 billion in economic impact and nearly 12,000 jobs each year. The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities named CSUN an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University, and the Wall Street Journal ranked CSUN second in the nation for the university’s diverse learning environment.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, which is a facility of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, was founded in 1935 in response to beach-goers’ questions about local sea life. The Aquarium’s mission is to be a trusted resource to inspire exploration, respect, and conservation of Southern California marine life. The Aquarium is the only fee-free aquarium in the United States that is accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association. From its modest but passionate beginnings as an enthusiastically displayed collection of shells, to the center for teaching and research to which it has evolved, the Aquarium serves an essential niche for environmental and science education in the Los Angeles area.

This article was a courtesy release.

Featured Photo: Aquarium of the Pacific logo used with permission. Background image courtesy of Aquarium of the Pacific.

Photo credit: © Michael Couffer