Panga

Pter­o­gym­nus la­niar­ius

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The panga or dik­bek is a medium-sized fish with an elon­gated body. It is pink­ish­sil­ver in colour and white un­der­neath, with yel­low stripes and blue-green dots along the body. The fins are a lighter pink. It has thick fleshy and furry lips and prom­i­nent ca­nine teeth that project out­wards. It is en­demic to South­ern Africa, oc­cur­ring from Yz­er­fontein on the West Coast to Beira in Mozam­bique. Size and bi­ol­ogy They reach up to 45 cm in length and like deeper wa­ter: 10–140 m. Spawn­ing oc­curs through­out the year with peak times from spring to au­tumn. The panga is a slow grower and reaches ma­tu­rity be­tween 4,3 and 5,2 years, when they’re about 28 cm long. It takes an­other five years to reach max­i­mum size, and the old­est recorded fish was 16 years old. Habi­tat They con­gre­gate in large shoals, and both adults and ado­les­cents stay near rocky reefs as well as sand and mud. The young ones ini­tially stay near the Agul­has bank but as they get older they seek greener pas­tures. Large num­bers gather in the mid­dle of win­ter and eat crabs and smaller fish and prawns. The young eat mysids (small prawn-like shell­fish). Catch it Even though the panga is a tasty fish, it’s too small for recre­ational an­glers. The species is caught by the com­mer­cial trawl fish­eries and is a ma­jor com­po­nent of the in­shore trawl fish­ery in the south­ern and eastern Cape, es­pe­cially around Port El­iz­a­beth. That’s a record 1,5 kg SASSI sta­tus You’re al­lowed to catch up to 10 – any time of the year – per day. Text Dr. Gavin Gouws Sketch Elaine Heem­stra © South African In­sti­tute for Aquatic Bio­di­ver­sity (SAIAB)

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