Reef fishes of praia do Tofo and praia da Barra, Inhambane, Mozambique
The coral reefs around Praia do Tofo and Praia da Barra, southern Mozambique, are known for their aggregations of marine megafauna, but no studies have yet examined their reef fish biodiversity. This study assesses for the first time the ichthyofaunal diversity of the seas around Praia do Tofo and Praia da Barra. Methods involved underwater observations during recreational dives between February and September 2016, and the use of photographic records from 2015 and 2016. A total of 353 species, representing 79 families, were recorded from 16 patch reefs in the region. The area shows comparable species diversity to protected areas in the southwestern Indian Ocean and has a high proportion of carnivores, together hinting at these reefs being in good condition. However, high primary productivity driven by coastal upwelling may be significantly influencing fish diversity and trophic structure, making these metrics unreliable measures of reef health in this instance. Future studies investigating the sustainability of this ecosystem would benefit from utilising a wide range of reef health measures.
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