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striped bass

OLogy Series
animal
card
199

striped bass

OLogy Series
animal

The striped bass has been a popular catch for fishermen for centuries. These fishes are known for their spiny fins and the dark lines along their sides. Adult striped bass live iin rivers, along coastlines, and in estuaries. But they all spawn (breed) in the same place: freshwater rivers. Some travel as far as 100 miles to spawn.

The Disappearing Striper
At one time, almost all the striped bass in the Atlantic were hatched in Maryland's Chesapeake Bay. Then, about 30 years ago, the number of striped bass living near the bay started to drop. This worried biologists and environmentalists, but it also spelled trouble for the local economy. Many people made their living by fishing striped bass. By 1980, so many striped bass had disappeared that thousands of fishermen lost their jobs. What happened to all those striped bass? One of the main reasons for the drop in bass population was overfishing: so many fish were taken from the bay, they couldn't reproduce fast enough to keep up. But this was just part of the story. Pollution was also getting into the water and killing fish. And one of the threats came from Mother Nature: water temperatures along the Atlantic coast were rising, and striped bass couldn't survive in the warmer water. In the 1980s, laws were passed to protect the striped bass from the effects of pollution and overfishing. Today, striped bass are still threatened, but their numbers are slowly growing.

A common nickname for the striped bass among fishermen is "striper."

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Fact

In addition to "striper," other common nicknames for the striped bass include: streaked bass, squidhound, rock bass, rockfish, linesider, and greenhead.

Male and female striped bass look identical.

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Fiction
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Fiction

Striped bass are sexually dimorphic. This means that you can tell males and females apart by looking at their physical characteristics.

striped bass
Scientific name: Morone saxatilis
Size: females are about 24 inches long, males about 11 inches long
Habitat: the coasts, estuaries, and rivers of the western Atlantic
Diet: crustaceans and fish
Characteristics: silvery body with stripes that run from gills to tail, and a spiny dorsal (back) fin

Image credits: courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.