South Africa’s first offshore marine invertebrate field guide

[From Deep-Sea Life 11, available here]

Lara Atkinson
South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), South Africa

The South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), in collaboration with the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and many other institutes, have launched the first Field Guide to the Offshore Marine Invertebrates of South Africa. The publication is a photograph-based field guide that enables researchers, fishery observers and fishers to readily recognise and identify up to 409 commonly occurring invertebrate epifauna from South Africa’s offshore region. Over the past seven years, a dedicated team of researchers, a large team of co-authors and collaborators from South Africa and abroad, implemented and maintained a long-term, offshore invertebrate monitoring programme. Led by Dr Lara Atkinson (SAEON) and Dr Kerry Sink (SANBI), the team collated invertebrate information collected during the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries demersal trawl research surveys (limited to west and south coasts only) to produce this publication.

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The field guide is a significant milestone in the description and mapping of South Africa’s deep-water invertebrate biodiversity, advancing taxonomy and biogeographic research by contributing to the description, mapping and assessment of marine ecosystems in South Africa. In addition to the book compilation, the monitoring programme has also enabled a rapid increase in local knowledge and understanding of offshore invertebrate taxonomy in South Africa and laid a foundation for future offshore benthic ecosystem research.

A link to download the complete (or chapters thereof) Field Guide to the Offshore Marine Invertebrates of South Africa can be found at:
http://www.saeon.ac.za/offshore-marine-invertebrate-identification-guide
Direct DOI link: https://bit.ly/2L2ZvlG

Funding to publish the Field Guide to the Offshore Marine Invertebrates of South Africa was provided by the Department of Science and Technology through the Global Change Programme and the SANBI SeaKeys Project funded through the NRF Foundational Biodiversity Information Programme. Additional specimens and photographs were collected through the NRF African Coelacanth Ecosystem Project funded Deep Secrets Project. The Fisheries Branch of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) provided in-kind support, enabling participation in their research surveys.

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