70 years of helping people to care for our ocean

Deon sadly passed away after a week of around-the-clock care

Deon, our beloved brindle bass, sadly passed away after a week of around-the-clock care in our hospital facility. Our curatorial and animal health teams attempted all possible treatment options to try and pull Deon through, but his advanced age and underlying age-related conditions just did not work in his favour. This last week delivered some highs and hopes, but also devastating lows, especially when Deon’s condition deteriorated on Thursday and he stopped responding to any form of treatment. Keeping him comfortable was top priority throughout, and he died while being managed with great respect and care.

Deon has been part of the aquarium family for 18 years, since he and Stanley, another brindle bass, were rescued from a shallow, drying out pond during the St Lucia estuary drought in 2005. They were both transported to the aquarium and have impressed visitors since then.

These fish are also known as giant groupers, and weighing in at approximately 200kg each, the word “giant” is very fitting. Deon’s favourite food was yellowtail kingfish and red mullet, but over the last few weeks he did not want to eat, which is never a good sign.

The animal health and husbandry teams will now proceed with a full post-mortem to learn as much as possible about Deon’s internal anatomy and physiology, and to try to identify what caused his deterioration and death. There is surprisingly little information available on the general husbandry, health challenges and even life span of brindle bass. We intend to analyse the seasonal rings (similar to tree growth rings) found in his otoliths (ear bones) which should give us an indication of his actual age.

“Deon was an aquarium icon, and his absence will leave an obvious ‘hole’ in our shark exhibit. We are sure his friend and companion Stanley will miss him, too. Deon “WOWed” millions of visitors over the years… an uShaka Sea World legend whose life we will continue to celebrate” said Executive Manager, uShaka Sea World, Maryke Musson.