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East Coast Fish-Watch Project Report November, 2000

As a result of our fish survey work and the efforts of our member-photographers we have discovered another 18 fish species not previously known from South Africa:
  • The lipspot moray, Gymnothorax chilospilus Bleeker, 1865; collected at Aliwal Shoal, this moray eel was previously misidentified as the leopard moray, G. undulatus.
  • Molucca moray, Gymnothorax moluccensis (Bleeker, 1864); first record for the western Indian Ocean; this rare moray was previously known from the Western Pacific.
  • Banded moray, Gymnothorax rueppelliae (McClelland, 1845); photographed at Sodwana Bay by Rose McGaw.
  • Whitespotted snake moray, Uropterygius alboguttatus Smith, 1962; originally described by J.L.B. Smith from Assumption Island in the Seychelles, this little moray was previously confused with a similar species, the yellowtail snake moray, U. xanthopterus.
  • Java spaghetti eel, Moringua javanica (Kaup, 1856); collected at Aliwal Shoal, previously known from souththern Mozambique and the Indo-West Pacific region.
  • Red pipefish, Festucalex erythraeus (Gilbert, 1905); collected at Aliwal Shoal, previously known from Mozambique.
  • Brown banded pipefish, Halicampus zavorensis Dawson, 1984; collected at Aliwal, previously known from 3 specimens, 1 from Zavora Mozambique and 2 from Oman.
  • Ghost pipefish, Solenostomus paradoxus (Pallas, 1770); previously known from Zanzibar and the Indo-West Pacific region.
  • African basslet, Liopropoma africanum Smith, 1954; collected at Aliwal Shoal,previously known from from Inhaca, Comores, Chagos and western Pacific.
  • Pinstriped basslet, Liopropoma susumi (Jordan & Seale, 1906); collected at Aliwal Shoal, previously known from Comores, Chagos and western Pacific.
  • Doubleline cardinalfish, Apogon fukuii Hayashi, 1990; collected at Aliwal Shoal, previously known from Japan.
  • Bengal snapper, Lutjanus bengalensis (Bloch, 1790); collected at Sodwana Bay, previously known from Kenya, Mauritius, Oman to Indonesia.
  • Chequered damselfish, Chromis chrysura (Bliss, 1883); photographed at Leadsman Shoal by Dennis King; previously known in the Western Indian Ocean only from Mauritius and Réunion; also reported from the western Pacific.
  • Yellowfin damsefish, Chromis leucura Gilbert, 1905; collected at Sodwana and photographed at Leadsman Shoal by Dennis King; previously known in the Western Indian Ocean only from the Maldives, Mauritius and Réunion; also recorded from the western-central Pacific.
  • Cheek-bar wrasse, Pteragogus taeniops (Peters, 1855); collected at Aliwal Shoal, previously known from Inhaca, Mozambique to Zanzibar.
  • Scarlet-spotted blenny, Cirripectes stigmaticus Strasburg & Schultz, 1953; photographed at Sodwana by Dennis King, previously known from Mozambique and the Pacific.
  • Spotty blenny, Laiphognathus multimaculatus Smith, 1955; previously known from Inhaca to New Guinea and Solomon Ids.
  • Long snout hawkfish,Cirrhitichthys guichenoti (Sauvage, 1880); collected at Aliwal Shoal; previously known from only 4 specimens caught at Mauritius and Réunion.
  • Squaretail rabbitfish, Siganus luridus (Rüppell, 1829); photographed by Dennis King at Aliwal Shoal, previously known from the Indo-West Pacific region, south to Beira, Mozambique.
In addition to the exciting discoveries from our fish collecting efforts, we are also learning more about our fish distributions from the diver-members and underwater photographers who are playing an active role in the Project. The following species, previously known from Durban or Sodwana Bay, are now documented from Aliwal Shoal and the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast:
  • Bluespotted stingray, Dasyatis kuhlii (Müller & Henle, 1841); spotted at Aliwal by Roel Jonkman.
  • Lattice-tail moray, Gymnothorax buroensis (Bleeker, 1857); collected at Aliwal Shoal.
  • Doubleline clingfish, Lepadichthys lineatus Briggs, 1966; collected at Aliwal.
  • Pygmy angler, Antennatus [new species]; collected at Aliwal.
  • Roughridge pipefish, Cosmocampus banneri (Herald & Randall, 1972); collected at Aliwal.
  • Decoy scorpionfish, Iracundus signifer Jordan & Evermann, 1903; collected at Aliwal.
  • Stonefish, Synanceija verrucosus Bloch & Schneider, 1801; photograph by Piet Strauss.
  • Duskyfin rockcod, Cephalopholis nigripinnis (Valenciennes, 1828); collected at Aliwal Shoal.
  • Foursaddle rockcod, Epinephelus spilotoceps Schultz, 1953; collected at Clansthal.
  • Broadstriped cardinalfish, Apogon angustatus (Smith & Radcliffe, 1911); collected at Aliwal.
  • Bluebridle cardinalfish, Apogon apogonides (Bleeker, 1856); collected at Aliwal.
  • Ruby cardinalfish, Apogon coccineus Rüppell, 1838; collected at Aliwal Shoal.
  • Oddscale cardinalfish, Apogon evermanni Jordan & Snyder, 1904; collected at Aliwal; previously photographed at Hibberdene by Dennis King.
  • Spur-cheek cardinalfish, Apogon fraenatus Valenciennes,1832; collected at Aliwal.
  • Longnose butterflyfish, Forcipiger flavissimus Jordan & McGregor, 1896; collected at Aliwal.
  • Dusky damselfish, Abudefduf notatus (Day, 1869); collected at Clansthal.
  • Twospot hawkfish, Amblycirrhitus bimacula (Jenkins, 1903);
  • Lined tamarin, Anampses lineatus Randall, 1972; collected at Protea Bank.
  • Saddleback hogfish, Bodianus bilunulatus (Lacepède, 1801); collected at Margate.
  • Snooty wrasse, Cheilinus oxycephalus Bleeker, 1853; collected at Aliwal Shoal.
  • Bird wrasse, Gomphosus caeruleus Lacepède, 1801; collected at Aliwal.
  • Rainbow wrasse, Halichoeres iridis Randall & Smith, 1982; collected at Aliwal.
  • Jewelled wrasse, Halichoeres lapillus Smith, 1947; collected at Aliwal.
  • Divided wrasse, Macropharyngodon bipartitus Smith, 1957; collected at Aliwal.
  • Two-spot wrasse, Oxycheilinus bimaculatus (Valenciennes, 1840); collected at Aliwal.
  • Muzzled rockskipper, Cirripectes castaneus (Valenciennes, 1836); collected at Clansthal.
  • Yellow triplefin, Enneapterygius abeli (Klausewitz, 1960); collected at Aliwal.
  • Blotched triplefin, Enneapterygius ventermaculus Holleman, 1982; collected at Aliwal.
  • Twospot goby, Coryphopterus duospilus (Hoese & Reader, 1985); collected at Aliwal.
  • Longspine goby, Coryphopterus longispinus Goren, 1978; collected at Aliwal.
  • Greenbubble goby, Eviota prasina (Klunzinger, 1871); collected at Aliwal.
  • Goldspot goby, Gnatholepis cauerensis (Bleeker, 1853); collected at Aliwal, and previously reported from Sodwana as "Gnatholepis sp. 2".
  • Locusthead goby, Hetereleotris tentaculata (Smith, 1958); collected at Aliwal.
  • Toothy goby, Pleurosyciia mossambica Smith, 1959; collected at Aliwal.
  • Bluebanded surgeon, Acanthurus lineatus (Linnaeus, 1758); collected at Clansthal.
  • Elongate surgeon, Acanthurus mata (Cuvier, 1829); collected at Aliwal Shoal.
  • Orangestriped triggerfish, Balistapus undulatus (Mungo Park, 1797); spotted at Aliwal Shoal.
  • Threespot flounder, Samariscus triocellatus Woods, 1966; picked up by John Dives of the KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service on our fish collecting dive at Aliwal Shoal.
  • Indian triggerfish, Melichthys indicus Randall & Klausewitz, 1973; collected at Aliwal Shoal.
  • Spotted toby, Canthigaster amboinensis (Bleeker, 1865); collected at Aliwal Shoal.
  • Starry dragonet, Synchiropus stellatus Smith, 1963; collected at Protea Banks.


  • The rare sandy filefish, Thamnaconus arenaceus, was caught by novice diver and Rhodes Student Ntobeko Bacela on a fish collection dive at Aliwal Shoal. Ntobeko’s fish is only the fourth known specimen of this rare species, and the 2nd specimen to be found in South African waters. The live colours of the sandy filefish were previously unknown.
  • Whitespotted electric ray, Narcine sp., this electric ray appears to be new (undescribed); it was recently photographed north of Durban by Dennis King. It was first recorded from South Africa by Stefania Lamberti’s photo of a specimen on Protea Banks.
  • The blackcap wrasse, Thalassoma genivittatum (Valenciennes, 1839), was previously known only from Aliwal and the Mascarene Islands (Mauritius & Réunion), but Piet Strauss recently gave us a photo that he took at Ponta do Ouro, Mozambique.
  • The grass klipfish, Pavoclinus graminis is usually found in weed in tidepools; we collected it at 27 m on Deep Cracker Reef at Aliwal.

The financial support provided by Sappi to the Project was greatly increased this year, and this essential funding allows us to develop the fish survey work and enables the East Coast Fish-Watch Project to produce more benefits to the members. The Fish-Watch method of using waterproof worksheets with colour paintings of South African fishes to identify the species in our area is proving very effective as a teaching and learning strategy to help divers identify the various species of our diverse fish fauna. Once they can put a name on a fish, they can then talk about it, learn more about it, and get to know its habits. This increased knowledge provides a greater awareness and appreciation of our fascinating fish diversity, makes SCUBA diving more interesting, and is essential to the understanding and wise use of our fish resources. Unlike our first three Worksheets, which were printed on paper and then laminated; our latest Worksheets (Nos. 4, 5, 6 & 7) have been printed directly on pvc plastic by Cardtronic, and this should provide a more durable Worksheet that will hold up better in the rough and tumble environment of dive boats, equipment bags and under the sea.


All text, images and photographs copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 & 2006
South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity or the respective photographer. All Rights Reserved.
Last update: November 1, 2006