Barred Sand Bass, Paralabrax nebulifer
The Barred Sand Bass, Paralabrax nebulifer, whose common Spanish name is cabrilla verde de arena, is a species in the Sea Bass or Serranidae Family, known collectively as serranos in Mexico. Globally, there are only nine species in the genus Paralabrax, five of which are found in Mexican waters, all in the Pacific.
The Barred Sand Basses have slender bodies with an overall greenish-gray coloration; they are lighter ventrally and the upper two-thirds of their body and tail base are covered with dusky blotches. They have pointed heads covered with small gold-brown spots. A key to identification is the third dorsal spine, which is the longest and is two and a half times longer than the second spine and longer than the fourth spine. They have rounded pectoral fins and a square caudal fin.
The Barred Sand Basses are found in sand adjacent to rocky structures at depths up to 600 feet. They reach a maximum of 65 cm (26 inches) in length and 5.1 kg (13 pounds 3 ounces) (the current IGFA world record) in weight.
In Mexican waters the Barred Sand Bass are found along the entire Pacific coast of Baja and from Loreto to Cabo San Lucas on the East Coast of Baja.
The Barred Sand Bass is similar to and can be confused with the Goldspotted Sand Bass, Paralabrax auroguttatus (dense orange spots covering head, body, and fins; third dorsal spine three times longer than second spine); the Kelp Bass, Paralabrax clathratus (yellow spots covering forehead; third and fourth dorsal spines of equal length); the Parrot Sand Bass, Paralabrax loro (orange spots and lines covering head; seven dark bars on the sides; third dorsal spine three times longer than second spine); and the Spotted Sand Bass, Paralabrax maculatofasciatus (numerous black, brown, and orange spots covering body; dark band from eye to gill cover; third dorsal spine three times longer than second spine).
The Barred Sand Bass is an important component of the recreational catch along coastal northern Baja and is considered to be an excellent food fish, however, it is exceedingly rare in southern Baja.
Barred Sand Bass, Paralabrax nebuilifer. Fish caught from waters within San Diego Bay, San Diego, California, July 2016. Length: 20 cm (7.9 inches). Catch, photo, and identification courtesy of Ben Cantrell, Peoria, IL.
Barred Sand Bass, Paralabrax nebuilifer. Underwater photo taken in coastal waters off La Jolla, CA, October 2016. Length: 23.0 cm (9 inches). Photo courtesy of Bob Hillis, Ivins, UT.
Barred Sand Bass, Paralabrax nebuilifer. Fish caught from coastal waters off Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, April 2016. Length: 38 cm (15 inches).
Barred Sand Bass, Paralabrax nebuilifer. Fish caught from coastal waters off Puerto Adolfo Lopez Mateos, Baja California Sur, March 2017. Length: 40 cm (16 inches).