Monday, August 11, 2008

Spearfishing a tasslefish(baardman) at Willows Port Elizabeth - video clip

About a month back I took my camera down on a dive and switched it on as I approcahed the reef at 16 m in excellent viz. I was specifically seeking a baardman to satisfy the wife's order for a few nice braai fish. I had already take one of about 1.5 kgs and needed another of similar size to complete my wife's order. I dropped into a crack - summoned the baardman but only very small ones came in then moved over the ridge and found a suitable fish.

I had some comments about my video clips and one included that a number of the species I took were red listed - meaning that they are at risk of overfishing.
I went to the website ( had a look at the data shown there.

This is what is said of baarman:
Species Information
Other Names | Slender baardman, belman, tasselfish
Biology | Highly resident with limited home range
Habitat | Sand and reefs, sometimes in extremely shallow water. Also caves in deeper water
Distribution | Entire coast
Capture Methods | Recreational shore angling and spearfishing, also caught by treknets

Conservation Notes
It is vulnerable to overfishing due to its high degree of residency. Previously there was confusion about the exact species but now it has been found that there are 2 in SA waters. U. robinsoni occurs more inshore while U. canariensis occurs in deeper water and is sometimes caught by trawlers

Here is my take on the above:
Baardman are seldom if ever taken by commercial fishermen off skiboats - I have never seen one caught.
Trawlers will offer threat to some degree but reefs will tangle trawlnets - especially the cave structures where baardman occur - the cave also offer protection.
In the surf baardman may be threatened by overfishing but I seldom see anglers with many baarman.
Spearfishing at certain areas may pose a threat to baardman in those specific areas.
Being fish that like sandy areas baarman will often occur on sandy and muddy areas where spearfishermen cannot take them as they seldom hunt over sand.
I further disagree with the residency issue - mature baardman are, in my opinion not, highly residential or we would see them consistently.
I believe that big baardman seasonally revisit certain caves perhaps to spawn but they move about a lot.
Wrecks make good and safe housing for baardman.
In due course I will visit some cave I know where large shoals of juvenile baardman can be found and I will post the clip.
Here is a pic of a baardman I took on a reef that is esentially never dived - it was very tame and came in repeatedly to look at me. I did not shoot it.

As I post pics or clips in the future I will include my opinion of the status of the fish and risks to overfishing. I believe that we divers can add valuable information to the opinions, assumption and deductions made by scientists who never set a foot in the water. I am a scientist and I see the difficulties of studying a closed system ina lab and we sometimes cannot make final conclusions.
Imagine making conclusions about an open system like the ocean where there are cycles and cycles within cycles. Some years back cape salmon or geelbek were reported to be a collapsed stock by marine scientists. One or two years later the geelbek catchers were so overwhelming that the market was flooded for most of the summer and one could buy the fish for under R5 per kilogram! It seems the geelbek moved off for a season or two and came back with a whack!

What are your comments on my view?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gletwyn, man am I glad I found your blog and posts over at mype. All you videos have got me psyched for my return to SA (possibly even to PE) after a while in the UK. Been spearing on and off since I was 13 and got to spear quite a bit while at PE Tech. a few years ago. Keep up the good work!