Sea Bass: They’re Both Mommy and Daddy!

By Shlomo Maital     

Mommy? Daddy?

  Some of us are mommy’s.  Some of us are daddy’s.  Very very few of us are sometimes mommy’s, sometimes daddy’s.  So, you’ve got to hand it to those sea bass, better known to us as tasty dishes at restaurants.  

   Black sea bass are increasingly rare in the wild, and so are being fish-farmed. Problem is, according to Prof. David Berlinsky, a zoology prof. at U. of New Hampshire, “they have a tendency to change sex unpredictably in captivity”. (Science Daily, 2006): 

   “In the wild, black sea bass are born as females and turn into males at around two to five years old,” Berlinsky explains. “When you bring them into captivity, they change into males more quickly.” Some captive-born fish emerge as males even before reaching adulthood, devoting energy toward reproductive development and away from growth. Such problems make breeding and growing the fish in captivity a tricky proposition.   Berlinsky and his colleagues have discovered that fish are more likely to become males if raised at constant temperatures. But temperature is hardly the only factor involved. Sex ratios and density also come into play. Berlinsky’s team found that females were more likely to change sex when no males were present in the tank. Additionally, the fish were more likely to turn into males when kept in crowded tanks.

   Let’s give those sea bass a round of applause.  When there aren’t enough males around…well, females become males.  Human females just enroll in JDate.  Crowding?  Sea bass females turn into tough males with sharp elbows (or fins).  Human females?  They just use a little more perfume.  Hot and cold flashes? Sea bass stay female. Human females wish they were males. 

    Love those sea bass.  I think they are purposely screwing around with the fish farmers, because, frankly, they don’t love being put in cages.  Free the sea bass!  Any creature capable of being both mommy and daddy, well — they’ve earned their freedom. 

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