ALGOA BAY HOPE SPOT
Algoa Bay is one of the South Africa’s largest bays, and richest thanks to the fact that it’s at the conjuncture of two oceanic systems, the Cape Agulhas and the upwelling current of the Benguela: two systems means two different ecosystems.
The St Croix Islands are located within the bay and are home to a great number of bird species; Algoa Bay was declared an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area by Birdlife International in 2001. The bay is also home to the largest breeding colony of African penguins in the world, and has migratory humpback and Southern right whales visiting in the winter months. Another species you’ll definitely see there is dolphins, both bottlenose and common. Usually orcas also visit once a year.
African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) This adorable creature makes a not-so-adorable donkey-like bray, which is why it’s also known as the jackass penguin. It’s endangered and is found in only a few areas along South Africa’s coast: Betty’s Bay (part of the Cape Whale Hope Spot), Simon’s Town (part of the False Bay Hope Spot), Algoa Bay (part of the Algoa Bay Hope Spot).
how to engage with the Algoa Bay hope spot
Get the kids water smart
The NSRI, SANCCOB and others make presentations to children from dozens of schools, who learn about the wonders and dangers of the sea, at various times during the year. Watch FB and check nmbt.co.za for the latest details.
Swim at the blue flag beaches
Humewood Beach, one of the first beaches in South Africa to be granted Blue Flag status in 2000, has rock pools and safe swimming (there’s a lifeguard). PS: Also flying the Blue Flag are Hobie Beach (with Shark Rock Pier) and Kings Beach (with kids activities like paddling pools, mini-golf and a go-kart track). Pollock Beach has a natural tidal pool. nmbt.co.za
The silent blue world of the bay contains amazing soft corals and exceptional marine diversity. Evania Snyman of Elite Scuba PE, for one, has found over 50 species of nudibranch in her years of diving. Commercial reef and wreck tours are offered by a variety of operators; visibility is generally better in winter. But even beginners can go looking for toothy ‘raggie’ sharks in alleys just five minutes off Hobie beach from November to May. Elitescuba.co.za
Go on a sea safari
Raggy Charters offers a variety of cruises into the bay – and plant a tree for each one; they say they’ve planted around 5,000 now. The focus for many is searching for puffs of whale breath above the waves. Trips to St Croix (where Bartolomeu Dias planted a wooden cross in 1488) guarantee penguin sightings. Pelagic seabird trips in winter head for the continental shelf in search of, for example, perfectly made-up black-bowed albatross, petrels and terns. raggycharters.co.za
Canter on an empty beach
Heavenly Stables offers 2.5 to three-hour rides through the Sardina Nature Reserve; a section of the route unfurls on the wide beach, part of a Marine Protected Area. Besides playing centaur, one may see antelope in the reserve and whales or dolphins in the water. heavenlystables.co.za
Dip into the past
Bayworld’s museums and oceanarium, where in the marine hall, some early models of fish were carved from wood and then painted, unlike today’s fibreglass casts. Bayworld cares for the largest marine mammal collection in the southern hemisphere and 20,300 ear-bones from marine bony fishes… Contact them for any strandings. bayworld.co.za