Striped Bass

About Striped Bass

Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) are a native fish to the Atlantic coast of North America, ranging from the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Nova Scotia to St. John’s River in Florida. A Gulf of Mexico population of striped bass can be found from the Suwannee River in Florida to Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. Striped bass are not native to the Pacific coast of North America, however they were introduced there in the late 1800’s and can be found along the west coast from Washington to California.

Striped_BassStriped bass are anadromous, meaning that the adult fish typically live in saltwater and then migrate to spawn in fresh water rivers each spring. Some striped bass are non-migratory and remain within estuarine river systems such as the St. Lawrence, the Santee Cooper, or the Savannah.

Striped bass are highly prized as a recreational sport fish and are also a parent species of the hybrid striped bass (white bass, Morone chrysops X M. saxitilis), a prominent commercial aquaculture species in North America. On the east coast of the United States, striped bass are recognized as one of the most important food fishes since the colonial times (1600’s).

Striped bass, or “rockfish” as they are sometimes called in North and South Carolina, also have the following common names: striperlinesidersquid hound, and greenhead. They are easily recognizable by the 7 to 8 prominent black stripes that run along the scale rows on each side of their silvery-white bodies. The dorsal fins are completely separated; the first (anterior) dorsal fin has 8-10 hard spines and the second has 10-13 soft rays. The anal fin has 3 hard spines followed by 7-13 soft rays.

The official Latin (scientific) name of the striped bass is Morone saxatilis (Walbaum, 1792). Other previous Latin synonyms for this species are: Perca saxatilis (Walbaum, 1792), Roccus saxatilis (Walbaum, 1792), Sciaena lineata (Bloch, 1792), Morone lineatus(Bloch, 1792), Roccus lineatus (Bloch, 1792), Perca mitchilli alternata (Mitchill, 1815). The closest freshwater relatives of the striped bass are the white bass (Morone chrysops), the yellow bass (Morone mississippiensis), and the white perch (Morone americana).

The largest recorded striped bass (81 lb. 14 oz.) was caught on August 4, 2011 by Gregory Myerson in Long Island Sound (Westbrook, Connecticut, USA) (International Game Fish Association).

For Additional information about striped bass life history and biology, please see this United States Fish and Wildlife report.

About Hybrid Striped Bass

Striped bass (Morone saxitilis) have also been hybridized with white bass (Morone chrysops) to produce hybrid striped bass also known as wiperswhite rock basssunshine bass, and Cherokee bass. These hybrids have been stocked in many freshwater impoundments and rivers across the United States for decades and they are a popular game fish among anglers. Hybrid striped bass are typically considered to be “non-naturally” occurring as the white bass and striped bass do not naturally hybridize. These animals are produced by artificial strip-spawning methods performed by personnel at fish hatcheries supported by state and federal government agencies. Striped bass can be distinguished from their hybrids by the regularity of their stripes whereas hybrid striped bass typically have interrupted or broken stripes.

Hybrid_Striped_BassFarming of hybrid striped bass is presently the fourth largest form of United States finfish aquaculture, behind only catfish, salmonids and tilapia. Typically, between 8 and 12 million pounds of hybrid striped bass are raised by farmers in the United states each year, with a farm gate value of around 30 million USD. When the white bass female is used to produce the hybrid for aquaculture, these offspring are referred to as reciprocal crossed hybrids or sunshine bass and when the striped bass female is used to produce the hybrid, these offspring are referred to as original crossed hybrids or palmetto bass.

For additional information about stocking of hybrid striped bass in recreational fisheries, please see The United States Fish and Wildlife Sport Fish Restoration Program website.

For additional information about hybrid striped bass farming, please see The United States Department of Agriculture website.

Genetic Improvement

The striped bass is one parent of the hybrid striped bass (white bass, Morone chrysopsX striped bass, M. saxatilis), which is a major aquaculture species in the United States (U.S.), and is itself cultured for market. Farming of these striped bass is presently the fourth largest form of U.S. finfish aquaculture, behind only catfish, salmonids and tilapia. The goal of the National Program for Genetic Improvement and Selective Breeding for the Hybrid Striped Bass Industry is domestication and selective breeding to produce superior striped bass and hybrid striped bass cultivars that will enable commercial producers not only to continue bringing fish to market, but also to decrease product prices and expand the industry.

Sequencing of striped bass and other fish genomes provide powerful resources for selective breeding and domestication of sustainable aquaculture species, as well as enhance studies of fish biology and evolution. The North Carolina State University Pamlico Aquaculture Field Laboratory (PAFL) is the sole world source of domesticated striped bass and serves as the primary site for breeding activities in the National Program for Genetic Improvement and Selective Breeding for the Hybrid Striped Bass Industry. This unique program is a collaboration between the United States Department of Agriculture, North Carolina State University, several commercial striped bass and hybrid striped bass farmers, and several other government and university research laboratories. This genome sequence will not only greatly facilitate genetic improvement of striped bass, but also will empower studies of striped bass populations, biology, and physiology nationwide.