southeast atlantic seamounts MPa

"Mountains in the Sea"

South of Knysna, Western Cape


These submarine mountains support a dazzling array of marine animals that we are only beginning to understand.

Just as parts of the magnificent Drakensberg Mountain Range are protected on land, this 6000 km2 MPA protects South Africa’s undersea mountains in the Atlantic Ocean. The Protea and Argentina Seamounts are 1.8 km tall, rising up from 2500 m to 700 m deep. They were formed by volcanic activity and are recognised as biological hotspots due to their dazzling array of marine animals. The biological richness of seamounts results from their steep slopes that interact with currents to carry nutrients from the ocean to the sunlit surface waters. This elevated productivity provides food for creatures ranging from corals to fish and turtles. The MPA was proclaimed in 2019 and protects seamount, slope and abyssal ecosystems, spanning a depth range of 750 to 4600 m. The abyssal plain and is the largest and least understood part of our planet. Scientists have been amazed by the diversity of deep sea animals living in abyss but South Africa needs to develop the technology and research capacity to explore this region.