Merluccius capensis

Merluccius capensis
Shallow-water Cape hake
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Gadiformes
Family: Merlucciidae
Subfamily: Merlucciinae
Genus: Merluccius
Species: Merluccius capensis
Binomial name
Merluccius capensis
(Castelnau, 1861)

The Shallow-water Cape hake (Merluccius capensis) is a merluccid hake of the genus Merluccius, found in the south-eastern Atlantic Ocean, along the coast of South Africa. Its range extends southwards around the coast and into the Indian Ocean. On the east coast it is less abundant and Merluccius capensis is rarely found in significant numbers north of KwaZulu-Natal. On the west coast, Merluccius capensis occurs as far north as Benguela in Angola, where its distribution overlaps that of Merluccius polli, the Benguela hake.

In South Africa, Merluccius capensis is one of the most important commercial food fishes and locally is generally known as stockfish (this English name being derived from the Afrikaans stokvis).[1]

Very similar to Merluccius merluccius (European hake) and Merluccius paradoxus (the deep-water Cape hake), Merluccius capensis has an average length of about 50 cm, up to a maximum of about 120 cm (47 in). It lives close to the bottom on the continental shelf and upper slope at depths from 50 to 500 m, usually not below 400m. Its preferred depth partly overlaps that of Merluccius paradoxus between depths of 200-400m.

Merluccius capensis might be classified as a euryphagous carnivore; immature specimens feed on small, deep-sea fishes and crustaceans. Large hake feed on squid and fishes as well; smaller hake and jack mackerel are major components of their diet.[2]

Merluccius capensis migrates vertically on a daily programme, being demersal by day and nektonic by night. On a seasonal basis, it migrates southwards in spring and northwards in autumn. Spawning is variably reported either to be year-round, or to occur mainly from mid-spring to early summer.

The Cape hake is often fished together with the species Merluccius paradoxus, which generally lives at greater depths. Most reported catches combine both species, but the range of Merluccius capensis continues towards the north-west coast of southern Africa, in the region of Angola, where, for practical purposes, Merluccius paradoxus does not occur.[2]


  1. ^ Smith, Margaret M.; Heemstra, Philip C. (1995). Smiths' sea fishes. Grahamstown, South Africa: Southern Book Publishers. ISBN 9781868120321. 
  2. ^ a b Lloris, Domingo (2005). Hakes of the world (family Merlucciidae) : an annotated and illustrated catalogue of hake species known to date. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 925104984X.  available for download at