Giant yellowtail (cape yellowtail)
Giant yellowtail live in the cold Atlantic waters off the Cape. During the annual sardine run, they migrate towards the east coast of southern Africa to feast on the sardines.
Yellowtail gather in large shoals offshore, at depths of up to 110m.
Black musselcracker (poenskop)Black musselcrackers have powerful jaws with a set of impressive teeth – four cone-shaped teeth in the upper jaw and six in the lower jaw, as well as two rows of rounded molars in each jaw.They use these teeth to crush starfish, sea urchins, crabs and chitons.
Clanwilliam yellowfishThis species occurs only in the deep pools and slow-flowing regions of the Olifants River in the Western CapeThese fish migrate upstream to spawn over the gravel beds of the middle reaches.They are threatened by the construction of dams, which obstruct migration routes and change the natural flood and temperature cycles in the river.Other threats include large-scale removal of river water, and alien fish, which feed on the eggs and young of the yellowfish.
Berg-breede river whitefish
This species occurs only in the Berg and Breede rivers.
They live in deep rocky pools and lay their eggs in gravel beds in the middle reaches.
Common carp (alien)
Naturally occurring in Central Asia and parts of Europe, common carp are now found in many parts of the world.
Like most other alien species, they are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of conditions, thriving in dams and large turbid rivers.
Carp stir up sediments when they feed, making the water cloudy, and sometimes stirring up water low in oxygen.
This can affect plant growth, as well as changing habitat quality for indigenous fish and other aquatic species that have adaptations for hunting or feeding in clearer waters.
Their destructive feeding habits have led to carp being viewed as pests by many conservationists.
There are 39 species of klipvis and all are found only off the coast of Southern Africa.
Most klipvis live in shallow rocky areas, but some can also be seen in sandy areas.
Klipvis do not lay eggs as the eggs are fertilised internally.
Mating can be a lengthy process and take up to an hour or longer.
The females give birth to fully developed young.
Mullet occur in dense shoals off the rocky shores and sandy beaches of the southern and western Cape coast. They spawn during spring in shallow waters and tend to frequent estuaries as nursery areas.
Instead of a stomach, these fish have a crop similar to a gizzard in birds. They feed mainly on microscopic plants and often take in fine granules of sand, which may assist digestion.
Commonly known as “harder”, this species supports an important commercial seine and gill net fishery. Catches of 5 to 6 million fish a year have been recorded.
The clown triggerfish is recognisable by its orange “clown lips” and large white spots on the lower part of its body.
It has three spines in its dorsal fin, the first of which can be locked in an upright position to protect the fish from potential predators, or to wedge itself into the reef.
The clown triggerfish is found on shallow rocky and coral reefs in the Indian and Pacific oceans and feeds on crustaceans and other hard-shelled animals. It particularly favours sea urchins and uses its strong teeth to bite off the spines.
Divers often hear grunting noises made by these fish through vibrations in the air bladder. Some triggers are aggressive and will even chase divers and snorkellers away from their territories.
Bluestreak cleaner wrasse
Bluestreak cleaner wrasse are active on coral reefs and provide a cleaning service to larger fish.
These busy little fish feed on the parasites and mucus covering their “clients”. The clients will even open their mouths and gill covers to allow the wrasse to clean.
Males are territorial and set up a cleaning station with several females. If the male dies or is removed, the dominant female will become a male within two to four days!
A small blenny, Aspidontus taeniatus, mimics the cleaner wrasse, but instead of cleaning, it tears pieces of flesh from surprised “clients”.
Rocksucker: Does this sound like the name of a funky band to you? Maybe a funky fish band?
These eponymous, ruler-length fish have a large suction pad under their bodies, which they use to cling to rocks, meaning they can endure strong currents. They can be seen in rock pools at low tide and often sit upside down under rocky ledges.
Rocksuckers are shaped like tadpoles with a wide, flattened head. They have no scales, but are covered with a coat of slime, making them very slippery.
With two prominent front canines, they are able to remove limpets or mollusks from the rocks, which they then swallow whole! If the shell is small enough, it will be excreted whole, but if not, the fish will vomit it up.
Guinea fowl wrasseThe Guinea fowl wrasse occurs in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and off East Africa.They can be seen on depth between 4 and 60m.The females are often seen in large groups, congregating on coral reefs.They constantly move and only stop to quickly pick off some invertebrates, which make up a large part of their diet.The males are darker than the female in colouring and are rarely seen as they keep to themselves.Mature males can reach a length of up to 22cm.
Although mole snakes can give a nasty bite, they are not venomous.
They are powerful constrictors, feeding mainly on golden moles and other rodents.
Mole snakes burrow through sand and spend much of their time underground, but can be seen basking in the sun.
In the south of South Africa mole snakes tend to be black or dark brown, while in the north they are brown, reddish brown, yellow or grey.
Mole snakes hiss loudly and strike when threatened.