Two views of the confused smooth horsefish at Long Beach, just before it was released in deeper water.
Photos Colijn Hahndiek
|Smooth horsefish (Congiopodus torvus) at Long Beach
Horsefish are species found only on our deeper reefs and wrecks - generally in the 20m and deeper range (although some have been seen in shallower water too, but rarely.) They are not common, and generally quite docile. While cooling down in my drysuit, between dives, this individual was spotted about to be beached at Long Beach. As it is so docile picking it up was not hard, and after a few photos it was taken into deeper water and coaxed to swim out to sea, which it did. What this animal was doing in such shallow water, in the already shallow Long Beach area is a mystery - possibly it was driven in by some current due to it being in a weakened state. Long Beach is known to be an area where unusual species "collect", but these are generally species originating in warmer waters, and hence may not be coping with the cold waters of Cape Town - but the horsefish, found at depth, certainly is no stranger to it. We hope it managed to find its way to deeper waters.
For more details on this species, see "Coastal Fishes of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay" and "A field guide to the Marine Animals of the Cape Peninsula" available directly from SURG or better dive and book stores in Cape Town.
Coastal Fishes of the Cape Peninsula and False Bay, A Diver' Identification Guide, G. Zsilavecz, 2005
A field guide to the Marine Animals of the Cape Peninsula, G Jones, 2008
Smiths' Sea Fishes, MM Smith and PC Heemstra, 1986