Childs Bank MPA
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 MPA supports seabed habitats filled with a kaleidoscope of seastars; raspberry stars, pancake stars, brittle stars and beautiful basket stars, which stretch their branching arms out from the bank’s steep walls to feed in passing currents. 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 pristine coral gardens remain on the steepest slopes. The Childs Bank area was first proposed for protection in 2004 but was only proclaimed in 2019, after reducing its size to avoid petroleum wellheads and mining areas. The MPA provides critical protection to these deep sea habitats (180 - 450 m) as they allow for the recovery of important nursery areas for young fish.
Protects unique and sensitive seabed feature – probable carbonate mound
Protects the only known location of the habitat forming cold water coral Desmosphyllum pertusum
Supports hake fishery eco-certification by protecting vital habitat