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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 53(2)

Synoptic overview of marine ichthyology in South Africa

Lynnath E. Beckley, P. Alexander Hulley and Paul H. Skelton

Marine and Freshwater Research 53(2) 99 - 105
Published: 22 April 2002


The coast of South Africa is subject to a range of oceanographic conditions and habitats, and this translates into a wide diversity of fishes. Indigenous people knew of, and used, some of these fishes long before the arrival of explorers and naturalists from Europe, who subsequently described many of the species in the scientific literature. The appointment of J.D.F. Gilchrist as the marine biologist to the Cape Colony in 1895 started a tradition of ichthyology in South Africa that was fostered by K.H. Barnard at the South African Museum. The discovery of the coelacanth in 1938 put South African ichthyology firmly on the world map, and J.L.B. Smith produced the first edition of the remarkable volume Sea Fishes of Southern Africa in 1949. Subsequently, in 1986, with the assistance of numerous local and international contributors, M.M. Smith and P.H. Heemstra compiled Smiths’ Sea Fishes, which documented >2000 species from the region. With the information in this volume as a basis, the coastal and shelf ichthyofauna of South Africa is examined at a biogeographic level. Diversity and endemism are discussed and complementarity analysis used to address the suitable location of marine protected areas to conserve the ichthyofauna of South Africa.

Full text doi:10.1071/MF01142

© CSIRO 2002

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