DE HOOP MPA
Cape Agulhas, Western Cape
With beautiful beaches and fascinating fynbos, this whale watching mecca is a paradise for tourists.
This 289 km2 MPA was proclaimed in 1985 and is found between Witsand and Skipskop on the southern Cape coast and extends 5.6km out to sea. From the sand dunes at Koppie Alleen, magnificent and expansive views of this 48km rugged coastline are visible. The area is renowned as one of the best places in the world for shore-based whale watching. Up to 350 southern right whales have been recorded in the protected area at one time. The whales arrive from the south in May and June to give birth to their calves, in the relatively warm, calm waters. De Hoop is also home to huge schools of shoaling fish, turtles, rays of various species, sunfish, bottlenose dolphins, rare humpback dolphins and on occasion Bryde’s and humpback whales. Early in the year, large schools of juvenile hammerhead sharks migrate through the MPA together with mega-pods of common dolphins and huge flocks of Cape gannets, all feeding on anchovies and sardines. In the summer months yellowtail, kob, elf/shad, leervis/garrick and rays of various species are common and numbers of great white sharks can also sometimes be seen. The intertidal rocky platforms are home to a wide diversity of invertebrate species, many of which are enjoyed by the many African black oystercatchers in the area.
The rocky subtidal reefs near Koppie Alleen and Lekkerwater provide spotted gulley sharks and numerous galjoen with sanctuary, while blacktail, zebra, white musslecracker and other surf-zone fish species can be found in abundance. Research in the area has proven the vital role of the MPA in the protection of South Africa’s national fish, the galjoen and other inshore linefish species. Managed by Cape Nature as a complete restricted (no-take) area, the De Hoop MPA is a natural gem that reveals the incredible value that no-take MPAs can provide. The adjacent De Hoop Nature Reserve is home to the amazing plant diversity of the Cape Fynbos as well as numerous birds and antelope species.
protects vulnerable reef fish
provides a safe haven for breeding whales
important area for tourism and environmental education