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The biology of Solea bleekeri (Teleostei) in Lake St Lucia on the southeast coast of Africa
Cyrus, D.P. (1991). The biology of Solea bleekeri (Teleostei) in Lake St Lucia on the southeast coast of Africa. Neth. J. Sea Res. 27(3-4): 209-216
In: Netherlands Journal of Sea Research. Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ): Groningen; Den Burg. ISSN 0077-7579, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Cyrus, D.P.

    Several aspects of the biology of Solea bleekeri in Lake St Lucia were investigated, these included occurrence, distribution, reproduction and recruitment, food and feeding, size frequency distribution and the role of estuaries in the species' life cycle. Solea bleekeri was found to occur throughout the system in muddy turbid areas and was largely absent from the eastern shores of the lake where clear water sandy substrata occur. The preferred diet of the species was bivalve siphon tips of the species Solon cylindraceus, when these were in abundant supply. However, when numbers of large (length > 20 mm) specimens were not available then S. bleekeri fed on whatever prey was available in or near the substratum. Analysis of stomach contents under the latter conditions showed that food consumption reflected the composition of the benthos. Large numbers of S. bleekeri spend their entire post- larval and juvenile phases as well as the greater part of their adult life within estuaries. Evidence is presented to support the idea that S. bleekeri breeds in certain areas of the lake and that spawning takes place between September and November. The current data suggest that there may be two populations in St Lucia: one migrates from the system to spawn at sea during winter along with the other marine fish species which utilize estuaries as nursery areas, while the other population breeds within the system. Alternatively there may simply be a single population which normally breeds at sea, but which may breed within the system when conditions are suitable. Recruitment of S. bleekeri into the St Lucia estuarine system takes place from the muddy offshore marine banks and possibly from within the system as well. Solea bleekeri appears not to be totally dependent on estuaries for the completion of its life cycle. The advantages of utilizing these systems for their development relate to the shallow, calm, turbid food-rich areas which estuaries offer. The tact that breeding takes place within St Lucia means that adults and juveniles are present in varying numbers throughout the year.

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