Wreckfish (Polyprion americanus)


A member of the Polyprionidae family and related to the giant sea bass, the wreckfish is a very deep-dwelling and large-growing species occasionally caught by heavy-tackle anglers probing extreme depths.

It is marketed fresh or frozen, sometimes as a sea bass or a stone bass, although it is susceptible to overfishing and is regulated in U.S. federal waters.

Other Names

bass, stone bass, wreck bass, hapuku; Afrikaans: wrakvis; Danish: vragfisk; Dutch: wrakbaars; Finnish: hylkyahven; French: chernier commun, mérot gris; Greek: vláchos; Icelandic: rekaldsfiskur; Italian: cherna di fondale; Norwegian and Swedish: vrakfisk; Portuguese: cherne; Spanish: cherna; Turkish: iskorpit hanisi.

Identification

The wreckfish has a deep, strongly compressed body and a very bumpy head, with a ridge and bony protuberances above each eye. Adult fish are uniformly dark brown or bluish-gray, and the young are mottled.

Wreckfish (Polyprion americanus)
Wreckfish (Polyprion americanus)

The second dorsal, as well as the caudal and the anal fins, are often edged in black, although the rounded caudalfin is otherwise edged in white, as are the pectoral fins. The spinous and soft parts of the dorsal fins are notched, and the lower jaw projects past the upper jaw.

Size

The wreckfish grows slowly but can eventually reach 7 feet or more in length and can weigh 100 or more pounds. The all-tackle world record is a 106-pound, 14-ounce fish taken off Portugal.

Food

Wreckfish feed on crustaceans, mollusks, and deep-dwelling fish found around wrecks or underwater objects.

Distribution

In the western Atlantic, the wreckfish ranges from Newfoundland to North Carolina.

Habitat

Found in the deep part of the continental shelf, at up to 2,000-foot depths, wreckfish prefer rocky ledges, pinnacles, and outcroppings around ship-wrecks. They are solitary fish and are sometimes found drifting with floating timber or other objects.
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