Recruitment of fish larvae and juveniles into two estuarine nursery areas with evidence of ebb tide use

  • Pattrick P
  • Strydom N
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Abstract

Recruitment of larvae and early juveniles, against the ebb tide in the shallower, slower-flowing marginal areas of two permanently open estuaries in the Eastern Cape, South Africa was observed. To determine tidal, diel and seasonal variations of larval and juvenile fish recruitment, fyke nets were used during a 24-hour cycle over two years from December 2010 to October 2012. On either side of each estuary bank, two fyke nets with mouth openings facing opposite directions (i.e. one net facing the incoming or outgoing tide and the other facing the opposing direction) were used to sample fishes. The aims of this study were to determine if 1) on the flood tide, were the nets facing the incoming tide collecting more larvae and early juveniles recruiting into the estuarine nursery area, than the nets facing the opposing direction and 2) on the ebb tide, were the nets facing the sea, and hence the opposing direction of the outgoing ebb tide, collecting more fishes recruiting into the nursery against the ebb tide, than the nets facing the outgoing ebb tide? Larval and juvenile fish CPUE, species diversity and richness varied seasonally between estuarine systems and between diel and tidal conditions. Highest catches were recorded on the flood tide, which coincided with sunrise in the Swartkops Estuary. Greatest catches of larvae and early juveniles were observed during the ebb tide at night in the Sundays Estuary. On the ebb tide, higher catches of several dominant species and several commercially important fishery species, occurred in the fyke nets which faced the sea, indicating the early developmental stages of these fish species are not necessarily being lost from the nursery. These larvae and juveniles are actively swimming against the ebb tide in the shallower, slower-flowing marginal areas facilitating recruitment against ebb flow. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Diel cycle
  • Fyke nets
  • Movement patterns
  • Swimming
  • Tidal cycle

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