Author Topic: Elf, Shad, Pomatomus saltatrix  (Read 4028 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


  • Guest
Elf, Shad, Pomatomus saltatrix
« on: August 19, 2007, 08:23:39 PM »
Also known as shad in KwaZulu-Natal, the elf is bluish-green above and silvery below. The scientific name saltatrix means “dancing/leaping girl”, which it does when chasing its prey or when fighting on the end of an angler’s line.

It is a very important coastal angling species throughout its distribution, from Langebaan to Mozambique. They occur in coastal waters but may also be found in estuaries and offshore waters. Elf have small razor-sharp teeth and are almost exclusively fish-eaters that prey on smaller shoaling species.
Elf reach sexual maturity at an early age (one year) and a size of about 25cm.

They live for up to 10 years, grow to a maximum size of about 1m and weigh up to 10kg. During the well-known winter ‘sardine run’, most elf undertake a spawning migration to KwaZulu-Natal. Spawning occurs from September to December, after which the small pelagic larvae are carried southwards by the Aghullas current. Early juveniles spend their first year in estuaries and inshore coastal waters along the southern and south-eastern Cape coasts. Large elf from the Western Cape probably do not migrate to KwaZulu-Natal.

Elf are ferocious feeders often attacking in packs, biting and ripping fish while in a feeding frenzy similar to that of some sharks.