Childs Bank MPA

"Coral Corner"

West of Namaqualand, Western Cape

 

As the camera descended, shiny lanternfish darted in the lights and upon landing revealed a rich and intricate matrix of cold water corals, sponges, seasquirts and tube worms.

This 1335 km2 proposed MPA supports seabed habitats scattered in a kaleidoscope of seastars; raspberry stars, pancake stars, brittle stars and beautiful basket stars, which stretch their branching arms to feed in the currents of the bank’s steep walls. Childs Bank is named after Captain Childs, who led a research team to the discovery of this interesting flat-topped, steep sided seabed feature in the 1970s. Although trawling has damaged coral in the area, some coral gardens remain on the steepest areas. It is critical to protect these deep-sea habitats (180 - 450 m), which provide nursery areas for baby fish, so that they have a chance to recover. The Childs Bank area was first proposed for protection in 2004 and has been reduced in size to avoid petroleum wellheads and other mining areas.

 

BENEFITS

  • Protects unique and sensitive seabed feature – probable carbonate mound

  • Protection of the only known location of the habitat forming cold water coral Desmosphyllum pertusum

  • Supports hake fishery eco-certification by managing bycatch and limiting damage to habitat