As part of the ORI CAPTOR project, genetic samples of slinger have been collected from four widely-separated areas along the KZN coast. The most recent collecting was undertaken in the St Lucia Marine Protected Area (MPA), part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in northern KZN. Fish from this area are being examined to see to what extent their offspring (as eggs and larvae) are being distributed further south, thereby supporting fisheries and biodiversity in areas which are not protected. While slinger are common in the MPA, the expert knowledge of ex-ORI scientist Pat Garratt, who did research on this fish for many years, was used to find the exact reefs where they aggregate to spawn. Hooked fish were brought to the surface, their swimbladders were deflated and a fin clip was collected; then they were returned unharmed back to the water, no doubt with a tale to tell to the rest of the shoal. Genetic material will be extracted from the fin clips, and will be sequenced at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity in the months to come.
Photos: Sean Fennessy