Movement patterns of an endemic South African sparid, the black musselcracker Cymatoceps nasutus, determined using mark-recapture methods

Published in: African Journal of Marine Science
Volume 41, issue 1, 2019 , pages: 71–81
DOI: 10.2989/1814232X.2019.1574238
Author(s): TS MurraySouth African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), South Africa, PD CowleySouth African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), South Africa, BQ MannOceanographic Research Institute (ORI), South Africa, JQ MaggsOceanographic Research Institute (ORI), South Africa, G GouwsSouth African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB), South Africa


This study made use of data from three long-term fish tagging projects along the South African coastline to investigate the movement behaviour of the endemic black musselcracker Cymatoceps nasutus (Sparidae). From 1984 to 2016, a total of 3 430 C. nasutus (178–980 mm fork length) were tagged (with small plastic dart tags) throughout the species’ distributional range, with an overall reported recapture rate of 7.2%. Recaptured individuals displayed high levels of residency, moving an average of 14.8 km, with time-at-liberty ranging from 0 to 6 809 days. The majority of recaptures (84.6%) were made within 1 km of the tagging sites; however, some large-scale movements, of up to 528 km, were recorded. Although C. nasutus individuals moving greater distances were characterised by greater mean sizes (mm fork length) at time of recapture, the distances moved by juveniles were not significantly different from those of adults (p > 0.05). Low levels of connectivity among coastal regions were therefore expected due to the high degree of residency displayed by this species. Combining traditional management approaches together with a well-designed network of no-take marine protected areas is likely to be the most effective way to protect this vulnerable species. A lack of data on the movements of adults remains a challenge, but this could be overcome by tracking large individuals tagged with long-life acoustic transmitters.

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