|Seaweeds of Maputoland|
The few seaweeds that most divers will notice on the reefs of Sodwana are the ten to twenty relatively large, showy species. They are unusual in two respects: they are a small minority of the species present, and they escape grazing by fish and invertebrates, either by producing nasty chemicals or hard carbonate walls, or by growing fast or in places where grazers can’t reach them.
In fact Maputoland is home to at least 400 species of seaweeds, but most are very small (their lengths measured in millimeters) and grow twined together in compact carpets (“turfs”) that cover reef edges and hard surfaces like dead coral. These inconspicuous turfs are incredibly rich in species. On the Sodwana reefs, we found 104 species of small seaweed in a total of 1.56 m2 of turf – an area not much bigger than a door, containing 20% of the seaweed species found in the whole of KZN! Remarkably, this number of species per area is almost exactly that found in turfs in
As with the fish and invertebrates on the Sodwana reefs, the seaweeds are mostly tropical species that reach the southernmost extent of their distribution on these reefs. Their affinities are overwhelmingly “tropical western
By Dr Robert Anderson - Rhodes University
|Last Updated ( Monday, 18 January 2010 08:28 )|