47) COASTAL CONSERVATION
The coast of South Africa runs in a great arc of over 3000
kilometres from the Orange River on the west coast to Kosi Bay
on the east coast. The west coast is influenced by the cold
Benguela current and the east coast by the warm Agulhas current.
These currents give rise to different communities of marine life
along the west, south and east coast.
This coast supports a rich fishing industry. Inshore there are
large kelp forests and many limpets, mussels, perlemoen and rock
lobsters. Large concentrations of seabirds breed on the offshore
islands. Seals breed both on the islands and the mainland.
Langebaan lagoon is the only national park and an important
feeding ground for birds that migrate to the Northern Hemisphere
to breed. Sanctuaries have been established to protect bird
islands and rock lobsters.
This section of the coast extends from the Cape Peninsula to East
London, and experiences much pressure from land usage and
tourism. The Cape Point nature reserve is of special interest for
comparison of the west coast and south coast communities. Smaller
protected areas occur in False Bay and at Betty's Bay where
perlemoen are abundant. De Hoop nature reserve, north of Cape
Agulhas, has a magnificent stretch of coastline with a
combination of rocky shore and extensive dune fields. The
Southern Right whales can be seen breeding in the sheltered bays.
Trails go through the reserve which is also used as an education
centre for school camps. Tsitsikamma coastal national park is a
well-managed wild stretch of coast which boasts an underwater
diving trail and the famous Otter Hiking Trail. Knysna lagoon is
the only estuary given any protection.
If one travels north from East London to Kosi Bay, the coast
becomes more tropical and mangroves line the river banks. Dwesa,
Hluleka and Mkambati nature reserves protect part of the
beautiful and gentle coast of the Transkei. They provide a stark
contrast to the heavily exploited neighbouring shores where the
local population harvests the edible shellfish and also the
seaweed Gelidium which is used commercially as a source of agar.
In KwaZulu/Natal, a large area of northern Zululand from Lake St
Lucia to Ponto da Ouro is set aside for conservation. This area
contains the only coral reefs in the country. Access to these
beaches is strictly controlled as they are the breeding grounds
of the loggerhead and leatherback turtles which come ashore in
early summer to lay their eggs.
Sharks are plentiful on the east coast of KwaZulu/Natal and
bathing beaches are protected by shark nets. These have been so
effective in catching sharks that there is now concern over the
removal of so many of the top predators of the seas. Shark nets
also catch dolphins, skates, rays and turtles and this is another
source of concern.
WHY ARE MARINE RESERVES NECESSARY?
Marine reserves protect a selection of ecosystems from:
* Human pressure and urban development.
* Pollution which may be caused by sewage, industrial
effluent, thermal effluent from power stations, oil
pollution from ships, plastic and rubbish.
* Recreational activities, e.g. boating, fishing, bait
collecting and harvesting for the pot.
* Commercial ventures, e.g. fishing and harvesting rock
lobsters, perlemoen, kelp and other seaweeds - overfishing will
disturb the delicate balance of nature.
* Mining ventures, especially diamond mining and the mining of
sand dunes for heavy metals.
* The use of beach vehicles which damage sand dunes, compact the
sand and destroy the sand-dwelling plants and animals.
THE COAST OF SOUTHERN AFRICA.
J Kench. Struik, 1984.
THE NATIONAL PARKS OF SOUTH AFRICA.
A. Bannister and R. Gordon. Struik, Cape Town, 1983.
LIVING SHORES OF SOUTHERN AFRICA.
G. and M. Branch. Struik, 1984.
EXPLORE THE SEASHORE OF SOUTH AFRICA.
M. Branch. Struik, Cape Town,1987.
A GUIDE TO THE COAST AND NATURE RESERVES OF THE TRANSKEI. Duncan
Butchart. The Wildlife Society, Linden and Durban, 1989.
MARINE CONSERVATION: DO'S AND DONT'S.
Department of Environment Affairs and Tourism; and the Dept.
Environment and Cultural Affairs (previously Cape Nature
PARADISE UNDER PRESSURE.
A. Mountain. Southern Books, Johannesburg, 1990.
OCEANS OF LIFE OFF SOUTHERN AFRICA.
A. Payne and R. Crawford (eds). Vlaeberg, Cape Town, 1989.
A FIELD GUIDE TO THE EASTERN CAPE COAST.
R. Lubke, F. Gess and M. Bruton (eds). Wildlife Society,
All books available from Russel Friedman Books, PO Box 73,
Halfway House, 1685. Tel. 011-7022300/1.
Natal Parks Board.
PO Box 662, Pietermaritzburg 3200. Tel. 0331-471961.
National Parks Board.
PO Box 787, Pretoria 0001. Tel. 012-3439770.
Dept. Environment and Cultural Affairs (previously Cape Nature
Private Bag X9086, Cape Town 8000. Tel. 021-483 4227.
KwaZulu Dept. Nature Conservation.
Private Bag X98, Ulundi 3838. Tel. 0358-700552.