Marine fish nurseries such as surf-zones have usually been classified as nurseries based solely on the density of pre-adult fish, yet the full suite of developmental stages are seldom assessed because of difficulties associated with sampling these habitats. The larval and early juvenile fish assemblage was studied in a sheltered surf-zone (King's Beach, South Africa), where high densities of older juveniles are known to occur. Fishes were collected fortnightly over six months using two modified seine nets. Although the surf composition included typical species for this habitat type, Gobiidae, Gobiesocidae and Haemulidae dominated the larval assemblage, which suggested that the nearby rocky structure and estuaries have an influence on the assemblage. Three species, Liza richardsonii (Mugilidae), Pomadasys olivaceus (Haemulidae) and Diplodus capensis (Sparidae), showed evidence of growth and recruitment into the surf-zone from the late larval stage. The high density of larval and juvenile fishes, the presence of more than one early life history stage and the observed growth of fishes suggests that King’s Beach provides a suitable nursery habitat for several fishes.
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Vol. 50 • No. 1