RiverWise 

Issue 23 ~ June 2020

The monthly newsletter of the Lower Breede River Conservancy Trust

In this issue

This issue covers our activities for June 2020. We start off with our Penguin rescue and some promising feedback from the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary , photos recieved during the month as we looked at our rocky shore. For the species of the month we look at the Shad or better known as Elf. Unfortunately no summaries and data from our routine monitoring projects covering downriver permanent probe data, bird counts and marine debris as the COVID-19 lockdown got in the way.

What we have been up to

Penguin Rescue

On the 2nd of June a penguin was spotted by a concerned citizen on the rocks at Oysterbeds Estate. Thank you to Sheralee Theron for calling us and keeping an eye on him until we got there. He was transported to Heidelberg and handed over to African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary - APSS, for a complete check-up.


On his arrival at APSS later that evening he was given 120ml of Darrows and 120 subcut fluids, a warm bed and on top of that he got hot water bottle. Further feedback recieved from them during the month is that, his condition was extremely emaciated and weak, but he is slowly recovering and started moulting again. He will be there for a while and as soon as he is ready he will be released on Dyer island, that's the closest penguin colony .

Photo's recieved for our Rocky Shore theme this month

During the month of June we celebrated two important days - World Environment Day on the 5th and World Oceans Day on the 8th. For this celebration we had a theme around our rocky shores and the importance of protecting them and some of the interesting sea creatures that live there. We recieved the most beautiful photo's from the public that we used during the month.

Sea star

Kirsty MacSymon

Four-tone nudibranch

Ronel Heyes

Rocky shores

Fred Stausebach

Oystercatchers in flight

Robyn Hofmeyr

Sea urchin

Robyn Hofmeyr

Spiny Chiton

Ronel Heyes

Anemone

Ronel Heyes

Sea Hare

Ronel Heyes

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Species Focus:

Shad (Pomatomus saltatrix)

Elf have an elongated body that is silvery in colour with light green/blue on the upper sides. They have a large mouth with a single row of sharp teeth on each jaw. It is a globally occurring species in temperate and tropical waters. Within southern Africa it occurs between Namibia and Mozambique. Elf also use estuaries within their range and are mainly found in the lower reaches of permanently open systems as the salinity is similar to that of the sea.


It is a is a popular angling fish along the South African coastline. It is a target species by fishermen along the KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Southern Cape coastlines. In KwaZulu-Natal it accounts for 28-80% of the reported annual catch in the recreational shore fishery. Adult elf are aggressive predators and feed mainly on fish.


Adults and subadults migrate seasonally, with adult fish common off the cape waters during summer and autumn. In winter and spring the are common off the KwaZulu-Natal coastline. At the end summer adults and subadults will leave estuaries to join the annual migration. Spawning occurs in northern KwaZulu-Natal with peak spawning between October to December. The elf migrating northwards feed primarily on pilchard which also undertakes a similar annual migration (the famed sardine run).


Elf breed at 25 centimetres total length. A maximum length of 1.0m and weight of 10.3kg has been recorded in South African waters. Elf lives for approximately 10 years. Current regulations state that the minimum size for elf is 30cm and a maximum of 4 fish per person per day. A closed season occurs between 1 October – 30 November each year. It is currently overexploited in South Africa.


Whitfield AK. 1999. Biology and Ecology of Fishes in Southern African EstuariesMaggs JQ, Mann BQ. 2013. Southern African Marine Linefish Species Profiles. Mann BQ (ed).

Oceanographic Research Institute. Special Piublication No. 9.

Branch GM, Griffiths CL, Branch ML, Beckley LE. 2010. Two Oceans: A guide to the marine life of southern Africa.

In the data

Monthly routine monitoring

Unfortunately no summaries and data from our routine monitoring projects covering downriver permanent probe data, bird counts and marine debris as the COVID-19 lockdown got in the way.

Thank you for reading

We hope you enjoyed this months' issue. Should you have any feedback, questions, or matters you would like us to cover in a future issue, please do not hesitate to write to us at news@breede-river.org. 

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