05 Oct

Last week, three large potato bass weighing between 25 and 30 kg were returned to the warm waters of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a natural World Heritage Site, after spending several years in the Reef Predator Exhibit at uShaka Sea World.  Prior to their release, they were each tagged with an acoustic tag as well as a yellow ORI (Oceanographic Research Institute) spaghetti tag.

 Although they were firm favourites with Aquarium guests, it was time for them to leave their home at uShaka as they were beginning to out-grow their exhibit and showing too much interest in some of their smaller mates.

 All three potato bass originally came from the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and it was therefore natural to release them back into the same area.

 This provided an ideal opportunity for Dr Camilla Floros, a Scientist at the ORI, to tag these fish with acoustic tags. Dr Floros is currently conducting an acoustic telemetry project on both potato bass and green jobfish in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

These tags, unlike the more traditional spaghetti tags, emit a unique “ping” for each individual fish (like a cell phone number or identification number) that can be identified by underwater listening stations which have been placed at strategic locations by ORI within the Park.

 “The listening stations can detect an acoustically tagged fish up to a radius of 300m and will provide valuable information on their natural ability to establish territories after being in captivity for a number of years” says Dr Floros.

 The potato bass were tagged in September and then monitored in quarantine for a period of five days before they were given their medical clearance and driven to Sodwana Bay for release on the offshore reefs.

 All three fish were successfully released off of ORI’s research vessel at specific locations on Two-mile Reef. “It was great to see them swim off into the blue and I can’t wait to download the data from the listening stations next year to see if these potato bass have stayed in the area or moved off to explore new reefs” said Floros.

 For more information contact uShaka Marine World on 031 – 328 8152

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