Giant kingfish tagged and returned to the ocean

  • 21 December 2015 | Ann Kunz | Category: Research

On 15 December 2015, six giant kingfish (Caranx ignobilis) were returned to the ocean after spending five years in the Open Ocean exhibit at uShaka Sea World. Prior to their release all six were tagged using conventional tags, while four were fitted with acoustic tags.

Aquarists Riaan Boshoff and Jason Haxton chose Westbrook Beach as the ideal release site as it has a good offshore reef that the kingfish could easily access.

A week prior to their release the kingfish were tagged

Giant kingfish are aggressive predators and it became increasingly difficult to introduce smaller fish into the Open Ocean exhibit without the risk of the fish being eaten, so it was decided to release the predators. This provided an ideal opportunity for scientists from the Oceanographic Research Institute and the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) to tag four of the fish with acoustic tags.

They were duly tagged with the surgically implanted acoustic tags that emit a unique “ping” that is recorded on SAIAB’s Acoustic Tracking Array Platform (ATAP), which has over 100 moored underwater listening stations strategically placed along the South African coastline.

Transporting the kingfish one by one in a special stretcher to the ocean

The retrieval and downloading of data from these listening stations will assist scientists in tracking movement patterns of these giant kingfish with much greater accuracy than can currently be determined by conventional tagging.  

The fish were tagged a week prior to their release and kept in quarantine for observation to ensure that they had suffered no adverse affects.

“The release went really well and all six fish headed straight out to sea once they surfaced from the plastic sleeve we used to carry them from the transport tank to the sea,” said Boshoff. 

"I am looking forward to receiving information from SAIAB’s ATAP and following the journey these fish will take over the next year," he added.

Releasing the large predators into the pristine ocean at Westbrook

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