With some of the highest concentrations of marine mammals in the world, Pondoland Marine Protected Area lies off the Eastern Cape coastline and is best known for being in the area that hosts the annual sardine run. Each winter one of the planets greatest natural events takes place as thousands of dolphins, whales, sharks and seabirds converge to feed on the sardines as they move northwards along the east coast of South Africa. The MPA is also home to threatened linefish including the seventy-four, red steenbras and black musselcracker and ongoing scientific research is clearly showing that in the no-take zone, the fish that were once heavily exploited, are now more abundant and considerably larger that in the adjacent areas where fishing is allowed.
The 90 km long coastline is worthy of intense exploration with its rich diversity and some of the most spectacular scenery in South Africa ranging from plentiful estuaries, rocky platforms and sandy beaches through to vertical sandstone cliffs with numerous waterfalls that drop directly into the sea. At low tide mussels, limpets, octopus and east coast rock lobster may be seen on the rocky shores or in the intertidal pools while flocks of swift terns and kelp gulls fly into roost and African black oystercatcher, ruddy turnstone, sanderling and curlew sandpipers all search for prey items. Lying in a transition zone, the MPA benefits from tropical fish species during the warmer summer months and temperature species during the colder winter months. With the estuaries along the Pondoland coastline still being in excellent condition, the juveniles of many marine fish species thrive in their waters and during the summer months the giant kingfish migrates into the Mtentu estuary in large numbers and heads far upstream in tight shoals, the reasoning of which is still not understood.
Pondoland also has a rich history of ships having been wrecked along its wild coast with the Sao Bento having sunk near Msikaba Island in 1554 and the Grosvenor in 1782.
For more information please do visit Marine Protected Areas South Africa and also please help spread the news in support of our MPAs.