The reproductive pattern of barred sand bass (Paralabrax nebulifer) from southern California

Sea basses of the genus Paralabrax are either gonochores or protogynous hermaphrodites. This study sought to determine which, if either, reproductive strategy prevails in barred sand bass (Paralabrax nebulifer). A total of 436 specimens were collected from June 1996 through April 1997 from seven different locations along the southern California coast. Of these, only two (< 0.1%) transitional individuals were found. All males examined exhibited testes with a membrane-lined central cavity and a sperm sinus in the gonadal wall; our findings suggest that these individuals may have passed through a female-like juvenile stage prior to maturation. In addition, 52% of the males examined had atretic bodies. However, males and females were equally distributed throughout the age classes collected. Based on all evidence, we conclude that barred sand bass in southern California are functional gonochores that possess a latent, perhaps ancestral, ability to change sex.