It’s October and that means it is National Marine Month in South Africa; a month focused on creating (extra) awareness of the benefits of our oceans and educating and informing citizens on South Africa’s marine and coastal environments.
There is a great deal of marine diversity in Nelson Mandela Bay. Did you know there’s a deep cold-water coral reef standing 30m high off the seabed near Port Elizabeth? And on top of that we have 40 km of golden beaches (with three beaches holding the Blue Flag status), tidal pools, all-year round great weather and mild water temperatures perfect for leisurely swimming and hosting big events such as the Ironman. No wonder the bay is home to the ‘Algoa Bay Hope Spot’.
What is a Hope Spot?
According to Mission Blue, Hope Spots are :”special conservation areas that are critical to the health of the ocean — Earth’s blue heart. Some of these Hope Spots are already formally protected, while others still need protection.”
Algoa Bay Hope Spot is one of six marine areas of ecological and biodiversity significance in South Africa and here are some unique facts about our Bay:
- Did you know that the Bay’s has a climate and oceanic conditions favourable for a large number of marine species?
- Did you know that the islands in the Bay host half of the global population of the endangered African penguins, and about 70% of the vulnerable Cape gannets?
- Did you know that Algoa Bay is the only bay in South Africa containing two ports i.e. a deepwater industrial port and a commercial port destined for a waterfront development and marina?
- Did you know that Algoa Bay is one of the few places in the world that is surrounded by over one million hectares of diverse land based protected areas?
- Did you know that Addo Elephant National Park is the only national park in the world where the ‘Big Seven’ land-based and marine-based species can be observed in one park?
- Did you know that the Alexandria Coastal Dune field is the largest coastal dune field in the southern hemisphere?
- Did you know that Nelson Mandela Bay is an underwater heritage museum containing over 300 historical shipwrecks?
Things to do in Algoa Bay Hope Spot this Marine Month
- Visit a Blue Flag Beach; go swim, snorkel or dive to experience the ocean’s diversity.
- We’re all custodians of our environment, why not organise a Beach Clean Up between friends? And while we’re at it, let’s reduce our single use plastic consumption (and not just in October).
- Visit SANCCOB, learn more about the endangered African Penguin and witness the incredible work they do with these marine birds. Take note: 13 October is African Penguin Awareness Day and SANCCOB in Port Elizabeth will release rehabilitated penguins back into the ocean. There will be stalls, food, a fun “anything with wheels” race; entry fee is R50 for adults and R30 for children or pensioners and starts at 8am.
- Go whale (and dolphin) watching – read all about the where, what and how of whalewatching in the Bay.
- Learn more about the fishing and angling history of the Bay at South End Museum.
- Visit the diverse 366 hectare Cape Recife Nature Reserve; not only is it home to an incredible shoreline, but there is also a hiking trail and the area is popular amongst photographers and bird watchers.