UC-Santa Barbara study to track movement of giant sea bass

Computer technology and photographs are being used to monitor navigation of the endangered species.

VENTURA—Two university researchers are tracking the navigations of giant sea bass off the California coast, according to Channel Islands National Park staff.

A statement issued by the local national park said Ana Sofia Guerra and Francis Joyce, who are both affiliated with UC-Santa Barbara in Goleta, California, would rely on computer imaging technology and photographs captured by recreational divers to track the movements of giant sea bass. The UCSB study is the first of its kinds.

The research project will include a lecture, to be held at 7 p.m. on April 11, inside the Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center at Channel Islands National Park. The lecture is sponsored by Channel Islands National Park and is part of the From Shore to Sea series.

“Giant sea bass are understudied, despite being the largest bony fish found along the California coast. They can grow [to more than] 700 pounds and seven feet in length, and can live up to 70 years,” Channel Islands National Park said in a statement. “Their extraordinary size and curious nature have attracted the attention of photographers for decades, a source of information Guerra and Joyce are tapping into to learn more about their ecology.”

Giant sea bass are an apex predator and are known to play a critical role in Southern California’s local marine ecosystems.

“However, giant sea bass populations remain critically low due to overfishing in decades past and are listed as a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature,” the Channel Islands National Park statement said.

Guerra is working toward her PhD at UCSB; her studies include the behavior and ecology of animal aggressions, fish schools on coral reefs and western gull nesting at Channel Islands.

Joyce, meanwhile, is a researcher at UCSB’s Benioff Ocean Instiative; her focuses on marine conservation topics, from threatened species in the Santa Barbara Channel to global analyses of industrial fishing activity.

The Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center is at 1901 Spinnaker Drive in Ventura Harbor. The program is free and open to the public.

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