Coast KZN

02 Nov 2021

Strange fish that washed up on a beach on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal has been identified

Zainul Dawood (Daily News) Picture: SAAMBR. This interesting fish belongs to the pomfret family (Bramidae). It washed up on a beach in Port Shepstone in KwaZulu-Natal.

DURBAN – The strange looking fish that washed up on a KwaZulu-Natal south coast beach has been identified. The South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) said they had received a photo from several anglers, and were completely baffled. The association then sent the picture to a few knowledgeable colleagues who likewise could not put a name to it.

The fish washed up on Sandspit beach just north of Port Shepstone in October. In a short space of time the picture went viral on social media.

Port Shepstone is situated on the mouth of the uMzimkulu River, the largest river on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast of South Africa.

The drawing of the Fanfish Pteraclis velifera was extracted from Smiths Sea Fishes.

To solve the mystery, SAAMBR said they sent the picture to some fish experts at the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity in Makhanda, Eastern Cape. They were able to identify it as a fanfish Pteraclis velifera (Smith No. 207.4).

In a statement Saambr said: “Although it looks very different to the illustration in Smiths’ Sea Fishes, this is likely because the fan-like dorsal and anal fin were worn off (or nibbled off) while the fish was washing around in the surf.”

According to SAAMBR this interesting fish belongs to the pomfret family (Bramidae). It has a circumglobal distribution in tropical and temperate oceans and is a pelagic species (found living in the water column). They reach a size of about 50 cm and are characterised by sail-like dorsal and anal fins which are blue-black in colour with silver edges. Very little is known about their biology.