Giant Sea Bass

Giant Sea Bass
Stereolepis gigas

Once common off Southern California and its offshore islands, the grand size, mild taste and gentle nature of the Giant Sea Bass led to their being hunted to near extinction.  Most divers in Southern California today have never seen one of these great fish, which can reach 7 1/2 feet long, weigh up to 600 pounds and live almost 100 years.  Fully protected in California since 1982, Giant Sea Bass appear to be finally making a slow comeback.

While diving off the Horizon at San Clemente Island, we were fortunate enough to find this friendly 5+ foot female, who hung around for well over an hour, allowing several of us to shoot an entire roll of film on her.   Often, she would swim right up to me and stop about a foot away, looking straight at me -- she even allowed me to gently scratch her under her chin!  I sadly thought how easy it must have been to shoot something this curious and docile.

For better perspective on her size, here'she is posing for another diver's camera:

Lens: 20mm
Film: Sensia
Location: San Clemente Island, CA
©1999 Garry McCarthy