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A striped bass, scientifically classified as Moronidae saxatilis, is the largest species in the sea bass family. It is native to coastal North America and is both a food and a game fish. Striped bass may grow to be as long as 59 inches (about 150 cm) and weigh as much as 77 pounds (about 35 kg). Generally, females are much larger than males; researchers have noted that almost all striped bass over 30 pounds (about 14 kg) are females. This species of sea bass can live as long as 40 years.
In appearance, the striped bass is a long slim fish. A striped bass varies in color from pale olive green to dark shades of blue on its back while its sides range from a silvery green to gray color. Its most distinctive physical characteristic is the six to nine dark-colored stripes that run horizontally along its sides from the gills to the tail.
Geographically, the natural distribution of the striped bass is along the eastern and southern coasts of North America. This species is found as far north as the St. Lawrence River in Canada. From there, its distribution follows the Atlantic Ocean seaboard of the United States south to Florida and along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico as far west as Louisiana. Since this is a game fish, it has also been introduced into other areas for sportsmen. This species has been introduced outside of its natural range into the Pacific Ocean coast of California as well as stocked in inland reservoirs throughout North America and in countries as diverse as Latvia, Iran, Russia and South Africa.
For habitat, these fish are hardly ever far from the coastline. They may be found along reefs, bays, estuaries, tide rips and inshore bars as well as in the surf. Although most of their adult life is spent in saltwater, striped bass are also able to live in freshwater. Whether in saltwater or freshwater, this species of sea bass is a top-level carnivore that will eat almost anything. Its diet includes mainly other fish, mollusks and large crustaceans.
Striped bass migrate from the saltwater of the coastline to the fresh water of rivers and tributaries to spawn, then return to the ocean. Spawning season is roughly from spring to early summer. Females release their eggs into the water to be fertilized by any male. The eggs hatch about two or three days after fertilization.
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