Cape Knifejaw

Oplegnathus conwayi

The Cape knifejaw is the largest of all knifejaw species. The knifejaw family is named for its teeth, which are fused into a parrot-like beak and used to prise barnacles and mollusks from the rocks. The Cape knifejaw is endemic to South Africa, and can be found at depths of up to 150 metres

Cape Knifejaw

(although adults often visit shallower reefs). Juvenile fish seek protection from predators under floating objects, and are bright yellow in colour with two distinct vertical black bands. Adults are silver in colour, with prominent lips and a rhombus-shaped body. They can reach up to 90 centimetres in length. Cape knifejaw are fished commercially and as a popular gamefish species. Those that escape capture are relatively long-lived, with a lifespan of more than 10 years.

Natal Knifejaw

Natal Knifejaw

Oplegnathus robinsoni

The Natal knifejaw is native to the Western Indian Ocean, and is found exclusively in the waters of Mozambique and in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. They prefer depths of between 20 and 100 metres and can reach up to 60 centimetres in length.

Adult Natal knifejaw are dark grey in colour. Their dorsal and anal fins mirror one another in size and placement, giving the fish a distinctive triangular shape. Juveniles are striped yellow and black, with five vertical black bars. The Natal knifejaw spends the first part of its life cruising pelagic currents, then takes up residence on inshore reefs after reaching maturity. This species has a diverse omnivorous diet, and is fished both commercially and recreationally.

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