Category America South – Atlantic Coast – temperate


Pagrus pagrus

Known as the Red Porgy or the Common Sea Bream, this indicator is classified ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) Red List of threatened species. Found over rocky, rubble, or sandy bottoms, this indicator feeds on crustaceans, fish and mollusks. It can be found as deep as 250m, but we certainly don’t expect any observations at that depth! The body is pinkish silver with an indistinct yellow spot on each scale on the upper half of the body, these spots giving a yellowish striped effect. There is some yellow marking on the snout and upper lip. The dorsal, caudal and pectoral fins are pink.


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Sea Bass

Acanthistius brasilianus

A member of the Serranidae family, the Brazilian Sea Bass is related to Groupers and can be found in the Southwest Atlantic: Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. It is up to 60cm long and is commercially fished. The mouth is large and slightly protractile, with well-developed fleshy upper lips. The lower jaw extends anterior to upper jaw. A brownish colour, with 3-4 dark bands on the lateral side of body, there are small irregular shaped dark spots on the body and dorsal and anal fins. The diet consists mainly of crustaceans (crabs) and moluscs (bivalves and small cephalopods) and smaller bony fish.


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All reef lobsters

The Palinurus genus (frequently transcribed as Panulirus) is represented by numerous species in all of the world’s tropical and sub-tropical seas as well as more temperate waters. It is a predatory, nocturnal animal with a vividly decorated coat. They are often numerous locally; they linger in crevices (with their long antennae sticking out) during the day and hunt small benthic organisms at night, but they also feed on organic detritus whenever they happen across it.

Lobsters have recently suffered a dramatic demographic decline; entire populations have been annihilated by intensive fishing, especially where tourism abounds.

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Pseudopercis semifasciata

Canchito is the Uruguayan name for this indicator, the Brazilian counterpart being Namorado. It is also known as the Brazilian Sandperch, and locally as “salmon de mar” or Sea Salmon. Commercially fished off the Southwestern Atlantic coasts, it can be found from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, to at least the New Gulf in Argentina.

With a maximum length of 120cm, but more typically 50-80cm and weighing 12-18kg, this important indicator has a pale brown body, with darker brown blotches giving rise to dark brown vertical and horizontal stripes. A row of dark brown blotches appears on the middle of the dorsal fin, with a prominent black spot on the upper lobe of the caudal (tail) fin. It feeds on fish, cephalopods, benthic (bottom dwelling) organisms and plants.

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Identifying sharks in the wild is a great challenge! While scientists can spend weeks examining every detail of a species, divers may encounter a shark for only a few seconds or minutes. Many species look alike and one individual may not be identical to the next.

There are, however, relatively few species in any one specific dive site and with some preparation and a little practice it is possible for all of us to recognise the more common and distinctive species. The key to successful shark identification underwater is a process of elimination, based on a mental checklist of the main features to look for in every animal encountered. One feature alone is rarely enough for a positive identification, so gather as much information as you can before drawing firm conclusions.

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