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, the Protea Seamounts MPA will offer the first protection of South Africa’s Atlantic undersea mountains - the Protea and Argentina Seamounts. Seamounts are formed by volcanic activity and are recognised as biological hotspots that support a dazzling array of marine animals. The biological richness of seamount habitats results from their shape with steep slopes that carry nutrients upwards from the depths of the oceans toward the sunlit surface, providing food for creatures ranging from corals to fish and turtles. South Africa’s seamounts rise up from more than 2500 m and although they elevate more than a kilometre and a half from the seafloor their summits are deeper than 700 m. This 6000 km2 proposed MPA protects seamount, slope and abyssal ecosystems and spans a depth range of 750 to 4600 m. The deep flat part of the ocean is called the abyssal plain and it’s the largest and least understood part of our planet. Scientists have been amazed by the diversity of deepsea animals living in abyss but South African scientists have still to develop the technology and research capacity to sample our abyss.



  • Protects important seamount ecosystems


  • Life history importance for seabirds and turtles