"Shark Sanctuary"

South Coast, KwaZulu-Natal


In Zulu, Vungu refers to the sound of a waterfall or wind in a gorge, which describes the strong nature of the deep sea currents that gush through the Vungu, Margate and Mzimkhulu Canyons in the area.

This 1200 km2 MPA extends from the Mzimkhulu River in the north to the Mpenjati Estuary in the south. It adjoins the Trafalgar MPA and together they protect beautiful shores with diverse seaweed gardens, interesting beach fossils and rich deep water ecosystems. Further offshore, in the 40 to 1000 m depth range, spectacular deep reefs, submarine canyons and diverse sponges and soft corals are protected. The area is home to seven shark species, which attract thousands of tourists every year. The main attractions are the huge schools of hammerhead and raggedtooth sharks. The MPA is home to many species unknown to science, including fish, corals and comb jellies. This is the only place in the world where aggregations of giant guitarsharks have been seen. The famous Sardine Run occurs makes its way up the coast through Protea Banks MPA. Since its proclamation in 2019, locals anticipate new economic opportunities that come with the expected boost in tourism to the area. The MPA is zoned to allow line-fishers to benefit from fish spillover coming from adjacent no-take zones. Sharks are fully protected throughout the MPA because of their ecotourism value.



  • protects 7 shark species

  • protects Unique deep reefs and three submarine canyons

  • Protects Spawning area for commercial linefish and allows recovery

  • secures the value of the area for ecotourism (including the sardine run)