The best places to see marine wildlife in Africa

by Robert on March 7, 2013

Africa is one of the best places in the world to see a variety of marine wildlife. Several areas are designated marine conservation zones such is the importance of the area to the local marine wildlife. It is usually a combination of factors such as good coral reefs, lack of pollution and human interference and good sources of food which lead to these areas becoming to home to some of the rarer species of marine wildlife such as whales, sharks, sailfish, swordfish, rays and dolphins.

Mozambique has the largest marine conservation area and its coastline is made up of a  number of different archipelagoes. Most of the islands are small and uninhabited which provide great shelter for all sorts of marine creatures. The area has crystal clear warm water and is one of the best places in the world for scuba diving.  In fact the vast majority of beach hotels and lodges offer diving instructors and dive trips such is its popularity.

The marine wildlife you will spot include manta rays,sting rays and electric rays, various sharks including the enormous whale shark, all sorts of brightly coloured reef fish including clownfish, parrotfish and angel fish,  giant moray eels, and even tiny sea horses. If you are really lucky you might spot a rare dugong hiding in a bed of sea grass. There are also lots of green turtles who lay their eggs on the stunning Mozambiquan beaches and several types of dolphin inhabit this coastline and can be seen all year round. You can even see humpback whales in the second half of the year as they come to the warm waters to calve close to the shore.

SouthAfrica is another place justly famous for its copious marine wildlife and for being one of the best places for whale watching, shark diving and dolphin spotting. Its geographical location has much to do with it as the Cape is where the warm Indian Ocean meets the cold Atlantic. This makes it an important route for whales on their way to their breeding grounds and the currents provide excellent sources of foods. You can even see whales from the shore as they come in so close especially in the months of September and October. In the town of Hermanus there is even a whale -crier who is a town-crier who announces whale sightings! One of the most fascinating sights is the run of sardines off the Alguhas coast where thousands of sardines pass close to the shore and become a feeding frenzy for larger fish, sharks and cetaceans.

During the summer months from June through to October the southern right whale comes up from Antarctica to breed and spawn around the sheltered bays of the Cape. This makes for great whale watching as they play and feed in large numbers close to the shore. You can see whales from  CapeTown all the way along South Africa’s southern coastline up as far as Durban. Although Hermanus is the best known other towns such as Plettenburg Bay and Alguhas also provide great opportunities for whale watching both from the shore and on boat  trips. Humpback whales can be seen in early summer and over the winter as they migrate past and Bryde’s whales and orcas can also be seen .  The Eastern Cape and the coastline of Kwazulu-Natal is often rugged and unspoilt and also provides excellent views of humpbacks, Bryde’s whales and souther right whales. Giant pods of porpoises and dolphins are common all along the South African southern coastline throughout the year. Along the Garden Route you can watch them playing in the surf whilst you stand on the beach in front of them.

The other growing popular pastime is shark diving or cage diving. There are trips operated out of Cape Town and towns along the Garden Route where if you are brave enough you can go down into the water protected by a cage and watch sharks being fed just a few inches away from you.

East Africa including the coastlines around Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar also provide good opportunities for diving and exploring the marine life of the coral reefs in the area. The waters are crystal clear, warm and full of beautiful tropical fish as well as rarer species such as rays of all kinds.  It is also a great place for the larger types of sport or game fish such as sailfish, tuna and swordfish.

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