|Scientific Name:||Syngnathus watermeyeri|
|Species Authority:||Smith, 1963|
Syngnathus watermayeri Smith, 1963 [orth. error]
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Critically Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii); C2a(i) ver 3.1|
|Assessor(s):||Sorensen, M. & Bills, R.|
|Reviewer(s):||Curtis, J. & O’Donnell, K.|
S. watermeyeri has been listed as Critically Endangered due to its restricted extent of occurrence, continued decline in habitat quality, and the absence of mature individuals in the latest intensive surveys.
S. watermeyeri is known only from the Bushmans, Kariega, and Kasouga estuaries on the Eastern Cape coast of South Africa (Whitfield 1995, Cowley 1998, Vorwerk et al. 2007).
Native:South Africa (Eastern Cape Province)
|FAO Marine Fishing Areas:||
Atlantic – southeast; Indian Ocean – western
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
Syngnathus watermeyeri has been recorded in small numbers and its presence/absence in surveys has fluctuated dramatically since these surveys began. Initial surveys in 1963 found 10 River Pipefish in the Bushmans estuary, 11 in the Kariega estuary and two in the Kasouga estuary (Whitfield 1995). Between 1989 and 1992, intensive surveys were conducted in all three estuaries with no specimens recorded. As a result, S. watermeyeri was listed as officially Extinct in the 1994 IUCN Red List but in 1996 a new breeding population was discovered in the East Kleinemonde estuary (Cowley 1998). This new population, however, was declared locally extinct in 2003 when a large flood was thought to have washed their preferred eelgrass habitat out to sea, no specimens have since been found in the East Kleinemonde (James et al. 2008).
|Habitat and Ecology:||
The male carries the eggs in a brood pouch which is found under the tail (Breder and Rosen 1966). Sexual maturity is attained at approximately 10 cm standard length with males retaining up to 44 embryos. Reproductively active specimens were collected in the Kariega estuary during late September (Whitfield 1995). The life cycle is completed within the estuary.
S. watermeyeri occurs in brackish, tidal areas of rivers and is found primarily in association with the eelgrass Zostera capensis and Ruppia cirrhosa, where it feeds almost exclusively on zooplankton (Whitfield 1995).
Syngnathus watermeyeri relies on freshwater pulses which provide the nutrients that enable phytoplankton development and, together with particulate organic material brought down by the rivers, support the zooplankton community upon which these pipefish depend for food. The construction of dams and other impoundments have caused a deprivation of fresh water pulses and a subsequent decline in food supply (Whitfield 1995). Dry conditions in the last few years have caused the Kariega river to stop flowing, which will likely result in the absence of S. watermeyeri in this system once again (A.K.Whitfield pers. comm.).
The South African National Water Act 1998 (Act 36) requires that all rivers should have an Ecological Reserve amount set aside. The Ecological Reserve relates to "the water required to protect the aquatic ecosystems of the water resource", including both rivers and estuaries (Vorwerk et al. 2008a). Ecological reserves have been determined for some systems in South Africa but not for any estuaries inhabited by S. watermeyeri. When dams were built on the Kariega and its tributary rivers, a water release policy was issued for downstream agriculture but the environmental requirements of estuaries and rivers were not included (Vorwerk et al. 2008a).
|Citation:||Sorensen, M. & Bills, R. 1996. Syngnathus watermeyeri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 31 July 2014.|
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