Temperate Southern Africa Region

The temperate Southern Africa Region includes the waters surrounding southern Africa. It is comprised of the cooler temperate waters along the coast of Namibia and South Africa and the warmer temperate waters of the Cape, extending into the subtropical eastern coast of Africa as far north as southernmost Mozambique, Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic, and the sub-Antarctic waters of the Kerguelan Plateau. It is bounded by the Tropical Atlantic to the northwest and west, Temperate South America to the south-west, and the Western Indo-Pacific to the north-east.


Species and subspecies

The flapnose houndshark (Scylliogaleus quecketti) is confined to the shallow waters of the eastern coast of South Africa (Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal), where it is subject to heavy fishing pressure.

The Natal shyshark (Haploblepharus kistnasamyi) is a rare species known only from three adult specimens all collected from a small area off the coast of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The brown shyshark (H. fuscus) is confined to a relatively small stretch of South African coastline from the eastern Western Cape to just south of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.

The honeycomb izak catshark (Holohalaelurus favus) is known only from coastal waters between Maputo in southern Mozambique and Durban, South Africa. At one time frequently caught as by-catch in trawl nets, it was last recorded in the mid-1970s.

The ocellated guitarfish (Acroteriobatus ocellatus) is known only from a few specimens collected in coastal waters from southern Mozambique to south-western South Africa.

The ornate sleeper ray (Electrolux addisoni) has an extremely restricted distribution in the coastal waters of south-eastern South Africa (Eastern Cape and KwaZulu- Natal).

The South African pygmy skate (Neoraja stehmanni) is confined to the south-western coast of South Africa.

The African softnose skate (Bathyraja smithii) is confined to the south-western coast of South Africa and southern Namibia.

The smoothnose legskate (Cruriraja durbanensis) is known only from two specimens collected off the western coast of South Africa.

The tiger-tail rough skate (Leucoraja compagnoi) is known only from a few specimens collected off the western coast of South Africa.

The whiteleg skate (Amblyraja taaf) appears to be largely confined to the waters of the Crozet and Kerguelan Islands.

The seventy-four seabream (Polysteganus undulosus) is confined to deep offshore reefs in south-eastern South Africa. Once heavily exploited, particularly where it formed spawning aggregations, its numbers collapsed in the 1960s and have yet to recover, despite belated protection. It remains subject to illegal fishing. The Scotsman seabream (P. praeorbitalis) ranges from central Mozambique to Algoa Bay in southeastern South Africa, where it has also suffered declines due to overfishing.

Two seabreams of the genus Chrysoblephus have undergone significant declines due to overfishing. The red stumpnose seabream (C. gibbiceps) is confined to coastal south-western South Africa, roughly from Cape Point to East London. The daggerhead seabream (C. cristiceps) is confined to the coastal waters of southern and eastern South Africa.

The wandering seabream (Acanthopagrus vagus) is found off southern Mozambique and south-eastern South Africa, where it is largely confined to estuaries. It is heavily exploited.

The white steenbras (Lithognathus lithognathus) is an estuarine-dependent species from South Africa that is threatened by overfishing, primarily seine-netting operations in False Bay. Olivier’s steenbras (L. olivieri) is known only from coastal northern Namibia, where it is an important commercial species.

The red steenbras (Petrus rupestris) is endemic to South African coastal waters, where it has been depleted by overfishing.

The white stumpnose (Rhabdosargus globiceps) is an important recreational and commercial linefish found from southern Angola to the eastern coast of South Africa. Populations have declined in recent decades due to overfishing as well as by destruction of its nursery habitats and pollution.

The Saint Lucia mullet (Liza luciae) is a poorly known species endemic to coastal South Africa.

The black musselcracker (Cymatoceps nasutus) is found in south-eastern coastal South Africa, where it was heavily exploited throughout the twentieth century. Now of little commercial interest due to low abundance, it nevertheless continues to be heavily fished for recreational purposes.

The blaasop beauty (Chelonodon pleurospilus) is a type of pufferfish known only from a small area of shallow coastal waters off south-eastern South Africa, roughly from the mouth of the Xora River to Durban. It is threatened by coastal development and pollution.

The belly striped pufferfish (Arothron inconditus) is a shallow-water pufferfish from south-eastern South Africa, where it has been heavily impacted in parts of its range by coastal development.

Marley’s toadfish (Torquigener marleyi) is known only from a single locality off south-western Africa near the Tugela River outflow.

Three blennies of the genus Clinus are endemic to coastal areas of south-western South Africa. The Bot River klipfish (C. spatulatus) is confined to two estuaries in South Africa (Bot River and Klein River). Valenciennes’ klipfish (C. latipennis) is found in subtidal areas from Table Bay to Cape Aguhlas in South Africa. The ornate klipfish (C. ornatus) is known only from nine specimens collected from False Bay.

The long-eared snailfish (Paraliparis obliquosus) is known only from the vicinity of the Crozet and Kerguelan islands.

The eight-gilled hagfish (Eptatretus octatrema) is an eellike species known only from two historical records and one more recent one from the southern coast of South Africa. It may be extinct.

The longfin burrower (Apodocreedia vanderhorsti) is an intertidal species from south-eastern Africa (Delagoa Bay, Mozambique to Durban, South Africa). It is potentially threatened by coastal development.

The Cape seahorse (Hippocampus capensis) is confined to the Knysna, Swartvlei, and Keurbooms estuaries on the southern coast of South Africa.

The estuarine pipefish (Syngnathus watermeyeri) is confined to the Bushmans and Kariega estuaries on the southeastern coast of South Africa, where it survives only in very small numbers.

The Valdivia dragonet (Synchiropus valdiviae) is known only from three specimens collected from the Walvis Ridge off south-western Africa and from Tristan da Cunha.

The Kerguelan Plateau

The Kerguelan Plateau is a submerged microcontinent located in the southern Indian Ocean about 3000 km south-west of Australia. Nearly three times the size of Japan, a small portion breaks the ocean surface as the Kerguelen Islands and the Heard and McDonald Islands.

The Kerguelen Commerson’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus commersonii kerguelenensis) was first discovered in the 1950s, and is only known from shallow waters near the Kerguelen Islands.

The long-eared snailfish (Paraliparis operculosus) is known only from deep waters surrounding the Kerguelan Islands.


Anthropogenic effects on the fauna

Within the Temperate Southern Africa Region, 1 species of marine fish is possibly extinct. In addition, there are 33 species/1 subspecies currently threatened with extinction (that is to say, either Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List, as well as certain forms either listed as Data Deficient or Not Assessed but which are clearly at some risk of extinction). Of these, 1 subspecies is a mammal and 33 species are marine fishes.