Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Spawning on the edge: spawning grounds and nursery areas around the southern African coastline

L. Hutchings, L. E. Beckley, M. H. Griffiths, M. J. Roberts, S. Sundby and C. van der Lingen

Marine and Freshwater Research 53(2) 307 - 318
Published: 22 April 2002


The southern African coastline is dominated by strong currents. Along the eastern seaboard, the warm western boundary Agulhas Current sweeps close inshore along the shelf edge before diverging from the coast on the Agulhas Bank and retroflecting back into the Indian Ocean. On the western seaboard, strong jet currents develop in the southern Benguela, associated with the strong thermal gradients induced by upwelling and Agulhas Current intrusions and eddies. There is, in general, northward drift of surface waters in the Benguela Current with strong offshore losses in the vicinity of an exceptionally active upwelling region off LÜderitz. Several potent mechanisms exist for offshore dispersal and loss from the productive shelf waters, such as eddies, filaments, retroflections and offshore Ekman drift, which pose special problems for successful retention of planktonic eggs and larvae from broadcast spawners. Most fish species in southern Africa have evolved highly selective reproductive patterns, which ensure that sufficient progeny are retained or can enter the nursery grounds along the coastline. Four important reproductive habitats, comprising spawning areas, transport mechanisms and nursery grounds, occur between Moçambique and Angola. These are used by a wide variety of pelagic, demersal and inshore-dwelling fish species.

© CSIRO 2002

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