The complex early life history of a marine estuarine-opportunist fish species, Solea turbynei (Soleidae) from temperate South Africa


  • Nadine A. Strydom Department of Zoology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
  • Crystal J. Coetzer Department of Zoology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
  • Paula Pattrick Department of Zoology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University - South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)



Pleuronectiformes, ichthyology, developmental stage, coastal habitat use, Solea bleekeri


The early life history stages and ecology of Solea turbynei, a marine estuarine-opportunist species, is described from nursery areas in Algoa Bay, South Africa. Early life history stages were collected over multiple years from known nursery habitats using plankton, fyke and larval seine nets. The larvae are described using morphometric measurements, meristic counts and pigmentation based on 29 individuals. Solea turbynei is differentiated from other Soleidae by the small size at flexion (3-4 mm), low myomere count and presence of two characteristic blotches of pigment on the dorsal fin. This species has a unique early life history strategy in that the larvae progressively span nearshore, surf zone and estuarine habitats with ontogeny. Abundance of preflexion stages peaks in summer in nearshore waters, indicative of peak spawning period but preflexion larvae are present throughout the year, indicating protracted spawning by adults. At flexion stage, larvae utilize surf zones where metamorphosis and settlement takes place. Early juveniles migrate into the sandy lower reaches of estuaries, after which fish take up residency to adulthood. Warm water is important for larval growth and survival in the nearshore, while turbidity shows a positive relationship with recruitment into estuarine nurseries.


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How to Cite

Strydom NA, Coetzer CJ, Pattrick P. The complex early life history of a marine estuarine-opportunist fish species, Solea turbynei (Soleidae) from temperate South Africa. scimar [Internet]. 2015Jun.30 [cited 2023May30];79(2):169-78. Available from: