• Size

    Maximum length of 28.3 inches (72 cm)
  • Diet

    Plankton, fish and cephalopods
  • Range

    Eastern Pacific from Washington state to Baja, California
  • Habitat

    Kelp forests

Physical Characteristics

  • Coloration is brownish olive, with a random pattern of yellow spots on the head, two distinctive rows of white blotches on the upper back and calico spotting on the belly. Fins are yellow-toned in coloration and males adopt an orange chin during mating season.
  • Largest recorded kelp bass was 28.3 inches (72 cm).
  • Juvenile is light brown in color and usually lacks the characteristic markings of mature kelp bass.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet varies depending on age, though both juvenile and adults feed on plankton.
    • Adults feed on fish and cephalopods.
    • Juvenile feed on benthic (bottom-dwelling) invertebrates.
  • Adults will often school together to prey on small fish. Each fish will pursue from a different direction, allowing the school to surround prey.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in the Eastern Pacific, from Washington State to Baja California.
  • Found in or near kelp beds in depths of up to 200 feet (61 m), but most commonly found in waters around 82 feet (25 m) in depth.
  • Mainly found in kelp forests, but can also be seen congregating around shipwrecks, rocky outcrops or reefs and pilings.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Reproduction is broadcast, wherein the male and female release gametes to fertilize in the water.
  • Forms mating aggregations with as few as 3 individuals to as many as 200.
  • Mature kelp bass spawn multiple times during mating seasons, sometimes spawning multiple times a day.
  • Fertilized eggs drift freely through the water column for about 28-30 days, at which point kelp, acting as a sieve, filter the larvae out of the water to settle on the leaves.

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Also known as the “rock sea bass” or the “calico bass.”


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