Surf-zone fish communities and their shifts over time are generally poorly understood. The aim of this study was to compare the current surf-zone fish assemblage at King's Beach, South Africa, to a similar study conducted three decades ago, before the collapse of many exploited shore fishes in the region. Beach seine nets (mesh sizes of 10 and 50 mm) were used to target juvenile and adult fishes bimonthly from February to August 2011 over the high tide around sunset. A total of 14 species were recorded in both the 30 m and 100 m seine nets. The catch in these seine nets was dominated by Pomadasys olivaceus and Liza richardsonii, and this was significantly different to three decades ago, when P. olivaceus, Sarpa salpa and Diplodus capensis dominated the catch. Important linefish species belonging to the Sparidae and Sciaenidae families were significantly smaller and less abundant in this study. Two sparids, S. salpa and Lithognathus mormyrus, which made a large contribution to the surf-zone catch three decades ago were absent during this study. Reasons for the significant shifts in the surf-zone fish community, including overexploitation of the linefish and potential habitat modification, are discussed.
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