"Miracles and Wonder"
North Coast, KwaZulu-Natal
iSimangaliso is a Zulu word that means “miracle and wonder”, a name that aptly describes the pristine and intricate ecosystems of this World Heritage Site.
This 1200 km2 proposed MPA is home to coelacanths, fish that have been around since the dinosaurs. The original Maputaland and St Lucia MPAs were proclaimed in the 1970’s to protect the nesting grounds of leatherback and loggerhead turtles and the beautiful coral reefs enjoyed by thousands of local and international scuba divers. Whale sharks, manta rays, marlin, broadbill spearfish, thresher sharks and even giant sawsharks visit the deeper canyons. These deep areas (40 to 2200 m) are home to dense fields of seapens, soft corals adapted to living in sand and mud, bands of delicate birdsnest glass sponges and rocky cliffs with giant branching sponges that cascade down steep walls. The deep soft sediment provides homes for spider crabs and deep water rock lobsters, species that are caught by fishermen south of the proposed MPA and in Mozambique. The offshore expansion will protect the home of the most accessible coelacanth population on the planet. Thirty two individual coelacanths, each recognised by their distinct spot patterns, live in this MPA.