A whole world waits for you under water. And nowhere is this more true than around the South African coast. Influenced by three great oceans, washed by the second strongest current in the world, blessed with extraordinary biodiversity, much of which remains to be discovered, and some of the greatest marine spectacles on earth, South Africa’s sea life would take lifetimes to explore.
There’s the fantastic assortment of tropical species of the KZN Coast, the warm temperate South Coast with its many species known from nowhere else in the world, and which is host to both the Sardine and Chokka Runs, and the cool temperate waters of the West Coast with their kelp forests and vivid invertebrate life, supporting massive commercial fisheries. There are mangrove forests, river estuaries, rocky shores, sandy beaches, lagoons and vleis. And on top of all that, there are many wrecks to explore, the earliest dating back to the 1400s.
Adventure into the dreamy kelp forests of the Western Cape, where silvery fishes flit through sunbeams like glittering birds. Visit the most ancient living shark species and swim with playful seals, more graceful underwater than any ballerina.
Sea fans sway on reefs, spidercrabs waving from their branches. Sea slugs delight divers with their vivid colours, as do anemones. Further along the coast, the water gets warmer and the marine life more unique. There are animals only known from one specific reef and the catalogue of animals unknown to science (and which might be discovered by you) can only be guessed at and is slowly being revealed. Much more obvious is the Sardine Run, which takes place in winter along the South and Wild Coasts. Sardines in their countless millions follow cold water and food as it flows up the coast. Predators wait in their path, and snorkellers and divers can see dolphins, sharks and even whales feasting on this fishy bounty.
Then there’s the East Coast, host to the vast cosmopolitan fauna of the Indo-Pacific ocean system. Bright tropical fish, astonishing in their variety pursue their business on coral reefs. Shrimps man cleaning stations, moray eels lurk in ambush, and whalesharks, manta rays and whales visit, gigantic inhabitants of the ocean realm.
The South African coast is a vast playground of wonders.
SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute) has begun a project called Seakeys aimed at unlocking marine biodiversity knowledge around our coasts. Anyone with photographs of marine animals they would like identified is encouraged to sign up to iSpot OR www.ispot.org.za using the tag SeaKeys and post the photo and its location.The South African coast is a vast playground of wonders. ocean realm.