Jensen Lab

Rutgers Black Sea Bass Project

Black Sea Bass

Watch video of black sea bass tagging

The goal of the Rutgers Black Sea Bass (RBSB) project is to understand the effects of sex change on populations of this important species. Most black sea bass first mature as females. Some individuals later undergo sex change to become male. The time it takes for an individual fish to fully transform from a female into a functional male is unknown. Knowing when and how long it takes for black sea bass to change sex, as well as the ratio of female to male fish, will build our understanding of black sea bass reproductive biology and will help improve stock assessment of this important species. The project is funded by NOAA's Mid-Atlantic Research Set-Aside Program and is conducted in collaboration with the following captains and vessels:

Capt. Rob and Eric Burcaw - Sea Isle City, NJ

Capt. Joel Mick - Evelyn Ann

Capt. Adam Nowalsky

Capt. Frank Camarda - Miss Beach Haven

Fisheries scientists from Rutgers University are working with commercial and recreational fishermen to tag and release black sea bass off the coast of New Jersey beginning in May 2011 and ending in September, 2012.  Upon capture, each fish is tagged with a unique number and information is collected on their current size, age, and sex. Tagged fish that are recaptured by researchers or by fishermen will be examined to determine if sex change has occurred. The success of this study depends on the cooperation of fishermen in reporting tagged fish and returning fish (either whole or the filleted carcasses or “rack” with guts intact) for examination. Each tag holder is eligible to claim a reward after reporting the recapture information and an additional reward (lottery entry) is available for providing the fish rack.

Tag Reporting Details:
If you have recaptured a tagged black sea bass, you may be eligible for an award. Follow the instructions below for reporting your recapture information and claiming your reward. Tag info can be reported toll-free by phone (1-888-776-6537).

Please avoid scraping algae, barnacles or grime from the tag; the printed number may be removed. Gentle rubbing under warm water is usually sufficient.

What to do if you catch a (legal size) tagged fish:
- Put whole fish or filleted carcass (with guts intact) with tag in freezer
- Call toll free # (or email: and provide the following information:
1) Name, address, phone #, and best location to pick up the fish
2) Date of recapture
3) Location of recapture (latitude/longitude preferred)

Don't have the fish? You can still help! In addition to the above information:
- Please tell us total length of fish (tip of head to end of tail, excluding the filament)
- tag number
- Disposition and fate (whether the fish was kept or released)

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Photo credits Olaf Jensen, Brant Allen, Jeremy Monroe | Site design Freshwaters Illustrated