The Return of the King of the Kelp Forest: Distribution, Abundance, and Biomass of Giant Sea Bass (Stereolepis gigas) off Santa Catalina Island, California, 2014-2015.
House, Parker H.
Clark, Brian L.F.
Allen, Larry G.
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It is rare to find evidence of top predators recovering after being negatively affected by overfishing. However, recent findings suggest a nascent return of the critically endangered giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas) to southern California. To provide the first population assessment of giant sea bass, surveys were conducted during the 2014/2015 summers off Santa Catalina Island, CA. Eight sites were surveyed on both the windward and leeward side of Santa Catalina Island every two weeks from June through August. Of the eight sites, three aggregations were identified at Goat Harbor, The V’s, and Little Harbor, CA. These three aggregation sites, the largest containing 24 individuals, contained a mean stock biomass of 19.6 kg/1000 m<sup>2 </sup>over both summers. Over the course of the both summers the giant sea bass population was primarily made up of 1.2 - 1.3 m TL individuals with several small and newly mature fish observed in aggregations. Comparison to historical data for the island suggests giant sea bass are recovering, but have not reached pre-exploitation levels.