Mystery of a set of small teeth found at Gonubie solved

Mrs Elrine de Witt sent through a photograph of a small set of teeth which she found on the Gonubie Beach (East London). A puzzle at first, but museum colleague Greg Brett, eventually got to identify the species.

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The fish species was identified as a Eel-catfish (Plotosus nkunga). Greg further commented that the find could be due to a kill by anglers or natural mortality when siltation events block their cave /overhang refuge which is necessary to retreat to when  cold water incidences occur.

They are found along open coasts, inshore reefs, tidal pools and occasionally in estuaries. The feed on small bottom dwelling invertebrates, molluscs, algae and other fish. They grow between 30cm – 60cm. Although they are probably edible they are also venomous (fin spines).

Reference: Coastal Fishes of southern Africa by Phil and Elaine Heemstra. (SAIAB, 2004).

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About East London Museum Science

Conservation Biologist East London Museum South Africa
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