Sodwana Bay News
South Africa's Coral Reef MPAs
Written by Administrator    Wednesday, 08 December 2010 11:08    PDF Print E-mail

South Africa’s coral reefs stretch for approximately 150 km along the northern KZN coast from north of Cape Vidal to the Mozambique border. TheSlingers reefs are separated into 3 groups termed the northern, central and southern complex and are situated in the Maputaland Marine Reserve and St Lucia Marine Reserve. Combined these two marine parks form part of the iSimangoliso Wetland Park, which was proclaimed a World Heritage Site in 1999. Although all of the coral reefs lie within marine protected areas (MPA) they do not have the same levels of protection i.e certain reefs are located within sanctuaries while others are designated multiple-use zones.

Why are MPAs necessary? 

Unless managed sustainably, the uses and users of marine ecosystems can threaten, change and destroy the very processes and resources that they depend on. 

Marine protected areas help protect important habitats and representative samples of marine life and can assist in restoring the productivity of the oceans and avoid further degradation. They are also sites for scientific study and can generate income through tourism and sustainable fishing. MPAs provide a range of benefits for fisheries, local economies and the marine environment. 

South Africa is very fortunate that all of its coral reefs are situated within MPAs. However, there has been limited research conducted on the affects of human activities in the different MPA zones. DoPeacock_Rockcod these activities influence the fish communities and if so, to what extent? 


Read more...  [South Africa's Coral Reef MPAs] Last Updated ( Wednesday, 08 December 2010 11:39 )
A Sense of Place
Written by Administrator    Friday, 08 October 2010 14:26    PDF Print E-mail

KwaZulu Natals iSimgangaliso Wetland Park has been called a small Eden and its not hard to see why.  Beach and bush lay side by side and you can find bothHippos_at_Lake_Sibaya turtle tracks and leopard spoor on the magnificent shoreline.

There’s no other place in the world with a comparable ecological footprint.  Within the park which covers 332 000 hectares you can find no less than eight interlinking ecosytems, 25 000 year old coastal dunes, more than 2000 plant species, 100 types of butterfly, five turtle species, the top frog count in the country and 526 bird species.  Wild dog, buffalo, oribi, cheetah, black and white rhino, lions and some of the largest Tusker elephants in South Africa can all be found in South Africa’s first World Heritage Site.

When elephants were reintroduced to the park in 2001, Nelson Mandela made a speech and aptly said:

‘The Wetland Park must be the only place on the globe where the world’s oldest mammal (the rhinoceros) and the world’s biggest mammal (the elephant) share an eco-system with the world’s oldest fish (the coelacanth) and the world’s biggest marine mammal (the whale).’

It really is an amazing place and visitors can scuba dive in the Indian Ocean on Sodwana Bay’s pristine coral reefs and enjoy an afternoons game viewing all in one day.

Last Updated ( Monday, 10 October 2016 14:02 )
Marine Research in Sodwana Bay 2010/2011
Written by Administrator    Wednesday, 21 July 2010 09:10    PDF Print E-mail

In recent years an increasing emphasis has been placed on the importance of understanding the dynamics of the marine sector through the implementation of minimally destructive scientific research. ScientificSnappers research is invaluable in an area such as the iSimangaliso Wetland Park as it allows for the implementation of Long Term Monitoring Programs (LTMPs), an understanding of anthropogenic (human) impacts, and educated management.  In short, scientific research will provide the baseline information required to ensure the area remains pristine while still allowing responsible and sustainable fishing and SCUBA diving.

Read more...  [Marine Research in Sodwana Bay 2010/2011] Last Updated ( Monday, 10 October 2016 14:07 )
The African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme
Written by Administrator    Wednesday, 30 June 2010 12:55    PDF Print E-mail

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park was inscribed as a world heritage site in 1999 in recognition of its natural beauty, global value,One_Coelacanth_can_Hide_Another and the unique biodiversity the area has to offer. The marine sector, warmed by the tropical equatorial waters of the Agulhas Current, is in fact so special that it is renowned worldwide for being home to a healthy population of coelacanths, a biodiversity hotspot, and an area of great ecological significance. Each year thousands of visitors head to Sodwana Bay to get away from the rat race while taking advantage of the pristine nature the area offers, particularly in terms of fishing and SCUBA diving.

Read more...  [The African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme] Last Updated ( Monday, 10 October 2016 14:06 )
Seaweeds of Maputoland
Written by Eve    Sunday, 17 January 2010 17:41    PDF Print E-mail

The few seaweeds that most divers will notice on the reefs of Sodwana are the ten to twenty relatively large, showy species. They are unusual in two respects: they are a small minorityhalymen_durvillei of the species present, and they escape grazing by fish and invertebrates, either by producing nasty chemicals or hard carbonate walls, or by growing fast or in places where grazers can’t reach them.


In fact Maputoland is home to at least 400 species of seaweeds, but most are very small (their lengths measured in millimeters) and grow twined together in compact carpets (“turfs”) that cover reef edges and hard surfaces like dead coral.  These inconspicuous turfs are incredibly rich in species. On the Sodwana reefs, we found 104 species of small seaweed in a total of 1.56 m2 of turf – an area not much bigger than a door, containing 20% of the seaweed species found in the whole of KZN!  Remarkably, this number of species per area is almost exactly that found in turfs in Hawaii. The turfs are usually being constantly grazed, which keeps them low and keeps many of the seaweeds small, like “bonsai algae”. They are in fact highly productive and grow fast, but most of their production is entering the food chain through grazers.  


As with the fish and invertebrates on the Sodwana reefs, the seaweeds are mostly tropical species that reach the southernmost extent of their distribution on these reefs. Their affinities are overwhelmingly “tropical western Indian ocean”, and they are bathed in the warm Mozambique Current that flows very close to the Maputoland coast. 

By Dr Robert Anderson - Rhodes University

Last Updated ( Monday, 18 January 2010 08:28 )

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