South Africa is endowed with an exceptionally rich marine environment. Besides the huge diversity of ecosystems, at least 11 130 species of marine animals and numerous species of marine plants and seaweeds have been identified in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Off the west coast of South Africa, the icy cold Benguela Current flows sluggishly northwards. Although our West Coast waters can only be conquered by the brave, without a wetsuit, our shores do offer a myriad of ocean activities.
Our shallow rock ponds provide hours of fun to small toddlers exploring marine life. They love exploring the bright anemones, starfish, rockfish and hunt small crabs. Our beach, Hospital Bay serves as an adventurous surfing ground. Jacobsbaai is known for its rich crayfish and abalone populations, thus has been a popular diving spot throughout history.
The west coast is also one of the richest fishing grounds in the world and not only supports huge commercial fisheries, but also large colonies of Cape fur seals, and seabirds such as African penguins.
During summer, strong south-easterly winds blow across the surface of the Atlantic hugging the coastline, resulting in upwellings of icy cold water. This water, originating from the ocean, carries a rich supply of nutrients, which fertilise the phytoplankton (microscopic plant life forms) and seaweeds. The phytoplankton flourish and form dense blooms so that water is often murky and discoloured. Prolific forests of giant kelp plants dominate the shoreline. Kelp is one of the fastest-growing seaweeds in the world and supplies food for a great numbers of invertebrates, such as abalone(perlemoen), crayfish, giant periwinkle, urchins, starfish and anemones that find shelter within the forests.