A preliminary fish survey of the estuaries on the southeast coast of South Africa, Kayser’s Beach – Kei Mouth: a comparative study
A basic ichthyofaunal and physico-chemical survey of estuaries on the southeast coast of South Africa from Kayser’s Beach to Kei Mouth was undertaken during September and October 1996. Twenty-eight (28) estuaries have been identified along this stretch of coastline, and these were grouped into three types: small (<10 ha) predominantly closed estuaries, moderate to large (> 10 ha) predominantly closed estuaries, and predominantly open estuaries. Multivariate analyses revealed significant differences between estuarine types both in terms of their physico-chemical characteristics and fish communities. These features were consistent with those reported in other parts of the south and southeast coast. Overall, predominantly closed estuaries had a lower species diversity than predominantly open estuaries and smaller systems had a lower species diversity than moderate to large systems. Although differences were observed between estuarine types, most systems provided important habitat for a number of estuarine-dependent marine species as well as resident species, which were often recorded in high numbers. Many of these species were also endemic, which further emphasises the importance of these estuaries in maintaining ichthyofaunal diversity in the region. This survey represents one of the few fish surveys undertaken along this little-studied section of coastline.
Keywords: ichthyofauna, estuarine survey, fish habitat, southeast coast