Namaqua Fossil Forest MPA

"Submerged Yellowwoods"

West of Namaqualand, Northern Cape


Offshore of the dry northwest Cape coast lies evidence of age-old forests; trunks of fossilized yellowwood trees covered in delicate corals.

A hundred million years ago, the sea-level was more than 200 m lower than today and home to temperate yellowwood forests. In 1997, a submersible named Jago explored the deep seas off Kleinzee for mining purposes and found the fossilized trunks of yellowwood trees covered in delicate corals. These unique features boldly stood out against surrounding mud, silt and gravel habitats. The fossilized trees are not known to be found anywhere else in our oceans and are valuable for research into past climates. One of the wood types was described as a new but extinct yellowwood species and was named Podocarpoxylon jago after the yellow submarine that enabled its discovery. In 2014 this area was recognised as globally important and declared as an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area. The 1200 km2 MPA protects the unique fossil forests and the surrounding seabed ecosystems and including a new species of sponge previously unknown to science.



  • protects Unique fossilized yellowwood forest with sensitive cold water corals, mud habitat and sponge gardens

  • Provides VALUABLE information about past climate

  • Protects fishing grounds and hake nursEry area from mining and other activities that impact the seabed