African Journal of Marine Science

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Distribution of calcareous nannoplankton in surface sediments along the northern KwaZulu-Natal Bight, South Africa

MN Ovechkina, MB Mostovski, R Uken


The coccolith assemblages from seafloor sediments over the inner shelf in the northern region of the KwaZulu- Natal Bight on the east coast of South Africa were identified and their distribution determined. In all, 29 Recent species and taxonomic groups, as well as 29 reworked species were recorded. The distribution of the Recent species appears to be governed by environmental features that have been documented in other studies: temperature, salinity, nutrient concentration and water circulation pattern, which reveals the long-term existence of a circulation cell in the sector between Durban Bay and the Thukela River. The outer edge of the cell consists of nutrient-enriched mixed layers and is characterised by an enhanced abundance of Gephyrocapsa oceanica, whereas the central region consists of a stratified nutrient-depleted water mass with elevated abundance of Umbilicosphaera sibogae, Florisphaera profunda, and a group of umbelliform species. The elevated levels of G. oceanica, coupled with the rarity of U. sibogae, F. profunda and the umbelliform species, confirm the presence of a permanent upwelling cell off Richards Bay. The maximum abundance of F. profunda found between Richards Bay and Lake Nhlabane indicates a region of nutrient-depleted (except for nitrite) conditions.

Keywords: Agulhas Current, Holocene, Indian Ocean, nutrients, quantitative analysis
AJOL African Journals Online