oa African Zoology - Composition, distribution and abundance of ichthyoplankton in the Sundays River estuary

Volume 25, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X



The species composition, distribution and seasonal abundance of ichthyoplankton in the Sundays River estuary was investigated at five stations from March 1986 to March 1987. Two estuarine taxa, the clupeid Gilchristella aestuaria and gobies Caffrogobius spp., accounted for 86% of the ichthyoplankton community, while the marine Mugilidae and sparid Rhabdosargus ho/ubi together comprised 12% of the total catch. Ichthyoplankton densities were highest in the middle and upper reaches of the estuary where zooplankton stocks were greatest. Juvenile G. aestuaria predominated in the bottom waters throughout the system but the larvae were more evenly distributed (vertically) within the water column. In contrast, the mugilids were concentrated in surface waters throughout the estuary. Larvae were most abundant during spring and summer months, coinciding with the documented spawning period of most species and the peak in zooplankton biomass.

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