Alongshore distribution and abundance of fish larvae off the coast of Kenya

  • JM Mwaluma
  • B Kaunda-Arara
  • J Rasowo


Knowledge is limited on the fish larval assemblage in shallow lagoonal reefs along the Kenyan coast. Fish larvae from five lagoons, spanning 120 km on the Kenyan coast, were sampled in March 2007 and April 2008 to compare interannual spatial variations in species composition, abundance and diversity along the coast. In all, 2 644 fish larvae were sampled, comprising 26 families and 37 species in 2007 and 43 families and 73 species in 2008. The larval assemblage was dominated by Gobiidae, Blenniidae, Pomacentridae and Gerreidae during both years. Larvae hatched from non-pelagic mode of spawning constituting 92% of total numbers. Mean larval abundance (no. 100 m–3 ± SE) along the coast ranged from 5.0 ± 1.0 to 414 ± 226, with highest densities occurring on the northern sites of Watamu (414 ± 226) and Malindi (31 ± 10). Interannual variation in larval abundance between 2007 (2.17 ± 0.3) and 2008 (2.16 ± 0.1) was not significant (p > 0.05). Shannon-Wiener species diversities between sites ranged from 1.2 ± 0.4 to 2.3 ± 0.3, with highest diversities occurring in Mombasa (2.2 ± 0.5) and Nyali (2.3 ± 0.3). In 2007, the occurrence of preflexion larvae increased northwards from Mombasa (18.2%) to Watamu (86.4%), whereas in 2008, the reverse was the case with the incidence of preflexion larvae reducing northwards from Mombasa Marine Park (76%) to Watamu Marine Park (2%). These trends indicate interannual variation in larval source sites for fish species. Correspondence analysis revealed distinct larval assemblages at sites along the coast, which varied between years.

Keywords: abundance, alongshore, diversity, fish larval assemblages, reef lagoons

African Journal of Marine Science 2010, 32(3): 581–589

Author Biographies

JM Mwaluma
Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, PO Box 81651 Mombasa, Kenya
B Kaunda-Arara
Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Moi University, PO Box 1125, Eldoret, Kenya
J Rasowo
Department of Biological Sciences, Moi University, PO Box 1125, Eldoret, Kenya

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1814-2338
print ISSN: 1814-232X