Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) are migratory fish native to the East Coast of the United States. They are anadromous, which means they spend the early part of their lives in freshwater before moving to saltwater. Each spring, adult striped bass travel from the ocean into tidal freshwater rivers along the Atlantic Coast to spawn where female stripers can lay up to 3 million eggs.

After spawning, striped bass return to the ocean, where some migrate as far north as the Bay of Fundy, a journey that can be over 700 miles. Other populations travel much shorter distances or don’t migrate coastally. Woods Hole has two unique striped bass populations that migrate to Eel Pond every year. 

Scientific Name: Morone saxatilis

Type: Bony Fish
Habitat: Open ocean, though they migrate to brackish and freshwater lakes and rivers to spawn
Range: The Western Atlantic Ocean from the Bay of Fundy to Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico; has also been introduced to lakes and rivers on the West Coast of the U.S.
Life Span in the Wild: up to 30 years
Size: 16 – 48 inches
Weight: Usually between 7-30 lb, but can weigh over 100 lbs in rare cases.
Diet: Almost any kind of small fish as well as invertebrates including squid and crabs
Status: Species of Least Concern

Remote video URL
Credit: Emily Greenhalgh, MBL
Striped Bass and the MBL

Through the MBL’s Striped Bass Magic program and The Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust Fellowship, resident and visiting investigators to conduct research on biological and ecological questions that relate to striped bass—from circadian rhythms in stripers to the impacts of ocean noise on our local striper populationThe fellows work closely with the Striped Bass Magic program at the MBL. Additionally, students and teachers have opportunities to conduct hypothesis-driven studies of striped bass biology and behavior to learn how the local ecosystem is affected by habitat degradation, pollution, and climate change.

Studying Eel Pond’s striped bass population leads to new insights into how environmental changes can impact ecosystems and their inhabitants— and how we can protect species like the bass and make sure they thrive for generations to come.

Learn More about the Striped Bass Magic Program