In a former cowshed on the edge of the University of New Hampshire campus, David Berlinsky, assistant professor of zoology, peers into a big blue plastic tub. Inside, black sea bass circle slowly in the dim light. The converted barn is now an aquaculture research facility for the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, and home to Berlinsky’s latest research.
Black sea bass feature prominently on many menus, but wild populations of the fish are in decline and their availability is limited. Because of the high demand, they’re a good candidate for aquaculture on the east coast. Except, that is, for one problem: they have a tendency to change sex unpredictably in captivity.
“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.
Kirsten Weir | EurekAlert!
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