NATIONAL MARINE MONTH │EASTERN CAPE
Sunday, 28th October 2018
It’s National Marine Month in South Africa and we’re celebrating the abundance and diversity to be found along our Eastern Cape coastline, and the wonderful marine adventures that await visitors to the Eastern Cape! And, breaking news is that the area from Coega to Cannon Rocks along the Sunshine Coast has officially been declared a Marine Protected Area!
Africa’s oldest and most established Marine Protected Area
Image: Untouched Adventures
The Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area is located within the Garden Route National Park, along the western border of the Eastern Cape. The purpose of a Marine Protected Area is to conserve marine life; and the coastal and marine health of the Tsitsikamma MPA is a testament to its conservation status, which has been in place since 1964. Divers can enjoy the superb snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities at the Storms River mouth, where there is a natural inlet: expect to see sand-sharks, various reef fish, smooth-hound sharks, rays and more on an enjoyable underwater excursion.
THE WILD COAST
Home of the Sardine Run
Image: Mboyti River Lodge
The annual Sardine Run is the largest migration on the planet. Every year, sardines “spill” from their natural habitat off the Southern Cape northwards along the coast, moving ever-closer to shore as the continental shelf edges closer to our coastline. Not only do the sardines assist in sustaining many larger species such as sharks, dolphins and whales, but this “run” also provides an absolute dream for divers, photographers and nature-lovers, known as the “Greatest Shoal on Earth.” The Wild Coast is an excellent place to observe this phenomenon and various charter services are available during the Sardine Run season (June and July), but plan to stay for at least a week (two is better), as the run is extremely unpredictable. The action can start and end in seconds, or last hours, and the Sardine Run in South Africa tops many divers’ Bucket Lists.
Penguins, Dolphins, Whales, Seals and more…
Image: Raggie Charters
Marine-life viewing along the coastline of the Eastern Cape is some of the finest you'll find anywhere; Nelson Mandela Bay, the largest city in the Eastern Cape, is called the "Bottlenose Capital of the World" and St Croix Island has the largest colony of African penguins on the planet. Additionally, we are fortunate to be located along the migration route of both Southern Right and Humpback whales, as they move from the Antarctic along the coast to breed and mate in our relatively warm waters. Dolphin sightings are very common along the coast, especially at St Francis Bay, Jeffrey’s Bay and Nelson Mandela Bay. Commonly seen dolphin species include Bottlenose, Common and Humpback dolphins, with rare sightings of Orca. Coastal birds include penguins, swift turn, black oyster catchers, kingfishers, gulls and cormorants. If you hop on a charter boat or turn your eyes to the ocean, you never know what you might see!
SCUBA DIVING AND SNORKELLING
Explore our underwater world
Image: Janet Middleton
The coastline of the Southern and Eastern Cape is a veritable treasure chest for scuba divers and snorkellers. The meeting of the Indian and Atlantic oceans along the Southern Tip of South Africa makes for very nutrient-rich water, offering divers exciting opportunities for viewing marine life in rock pools, on wrecks and reefs. While the fish life in our area is abundant, it is the soft coral of our reefs that provides a fireworks’ display of colours. Photographers will enjoy getting up close to nudibranchs, endemic shysharks, fans, sponges and many species of soft coral. The coastline is also known for reef-dwelling Ragged-tooth sharks, while a pelagic diving trip could provide encounters with Black Tip, Dusky and Mako sharks.
SURFING, STAND-UP PADDLING, KITE-SURFING, FISHING…
Eastern Cape Adventure Province
Image: Watsup Tours
The Eastern Cape isn’t called the “Adventure Province” for nothing! Surfers won’t want to miss the superb waves at St Francis Bay, Port Alfred and, of course, the world-famous Jeffrey’s Bay (J-Bay). If stand-up paddling is more your pace, the waterways and rivers of the Eastern Cape offer kilometres of pristine paddling to enjoy our natural beauty; try Bushmans, Kowie and Kariega rivers on the Sunshine Coast, and the canals of St Francis Bay. Kite-surfing is growing in popularity in the Eastern Cape, and Kenton and Jeffery’s Bay are the most popular hotspots for lessons and adventures. Every region in the Eastern Cape offers fishing experiences and our coastline is an excellent place for rock, surf and deep-sea fishing, with tuna, dorado, cob and salmon frequently caught.
WHICH COASTAL AREA WOULD YOU LIKE TO VISIT
KOUGA (St Francis Bay, Jeffrey’s Ba)
ROUTE 72 ON THE SUNSHINE COAST (Port Alfred, Kenton)