Supporting South Africa’s marine protected areas. Bettys Bay MPA. Previously titled the H.F. Verwoerd marine reserve, the Bettys Bay marine protected area was re-proclaimed and renamed in 1998. It was originally set up to address the declining availability of line-caught fish and to protect abalone (Haliotis midae) from over-exploitation as a result of rampant poaching. The MPA also forms part of the core zone of the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation (“UNESCO”) designated Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve.
Although the MPA is rather small and only covers a 3 km stretch of coastline between Stony Point and Jocks Bay, it is a productive and biologically diverse area, supporting substantial fish, and invertebrate and algal fisheries. The environment is diverse, with rocky headlands, wave-cut platforms, high-energy sandy beaches, kelp forests, estuaries, extensive sub-tidal reefs and pelagic habitat. The intertidal zone is particularly rich with diversity and numerous animals and plants species include winkles, limpets, brown mussels, coralline seaweeds, anemones, urchins, starfish and octopus.
Rich kelp forests that are attached to the rocky substratum by a holdfast are a defining feature of the marine protected area. They provide a rich source of food and shelter for a variety of animals including the kelp limpet, alikreukel, and abalone and West coast rock lobster. Large quantities of this kelp also wash ashore and become a source of food and shelter for sand hoppers and sea lice. Birds such as sanderlings in turn prey upon these small crustaceans. In addition, the crustaceans help to break down the kelp into fragments small enough to be consumed by filter feeders in the surf zone, such as white mussels that live on the adjacent sandy beaches.
Fish species found in the Betty’s Bay MPA include Silver Kob, Shad (Elf), Geelbek, Hottentot, Bronze Bream, Red Roman, Galjoen, White Steenbras, Spotted gully shark and Smooth hound shark. Sadly most of these species now only occur in small numbers as a result of over-fishing.
Stony Point is only one of two mainland breeding sites for the endangered African Penguin. In the early 1980’s this rather uninteresting jumble of rocks that line the coastline became famous when a small group of penguins decided that it would become their breeding site. Since then, the colony has steadily grown into one of the most important breeding colonies for the species. Wooden boardwalks and viewing platforms now transect through the colony allowing thousands of visitors each year to view the antics of these quaint birds. Cape Cormorant and White-Breasted Cormorants also breed beside the penguins and the fortunate may also view Crowned and Bank Cormorants.
For more information please do visit Marine Protected Areas South Africa and also please help spread the news in support of our MPAs.