The fish community of the berg river estuary and an assessment of the likely effects of reduced freshwater inflows

  • B.A. Bennett


Data concerning the species composition, abundance and distribution of fishes inhabiting the Berg River estuary are presented and used to assess the value of the estuary to fish, and the likely eflects of reduced freshwater inflows. A total of 31 species was recorded, eight of which were classified as estuarine residents, 11 as marine estuarine-opportunists, six as marine stragglers and six were freshwater species. Liza richardsonii, an opportunist, was the most abundant (54% N) and widely distributed species encountered during the winter and summer seine-net surveys. Three other species (all residents) contributed more than 10% of the total catch; Atherina breviceps and Caffrogobius nudiceps occurring most abundantly in the lower estuary, and Gilchristella aestuaria in the middle estuary. The low number of species compared with estuaries in other regions of the South African coast reflect a well-established marine biogeographical trend. The higher proportions ol resident species, entirely dependent species and partially dependent species suggest, however, that west coast estuaries may be more important to the fish that inhabit them than are estuaries in other regions. It is concluded that the fish community of the estuary is already suffering the effects of habitat degradation and that further reductions in freshwater inllows are not desirable.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2224-073X
print ISSN: 1562-7020