What is unique about Algoa Bay?

• Algoa Bay is a proclaimed marine biodiversity hotspot. Located at the conjuncture of two major oceanic systems, the Agulhas and the Benguela currents, the bay has a climate and oceanic conditions favourable for a large number of marine species.

• The islands in the bay host half of the global population of the iconic but endangered African penguins, and 70% of the vulnerable Cape gannets. These seabirds are decreasing dramatically in the rest of South Africa but are stable the bay. Many other endemic seabird species breed in the bay, which led Bird Life International to declare the bay a marine important Bird Area.

• Algoa Bay is the only bay in South Africa containing two ports i.e. a deepwater industrial port and a commercial port destined for a waterfront development and marina.

• Algoa Bay is one of the few bays in the world surrounded by over one million hectares of diverse land based protected areas i.e. national parks, provincial nature reserves, private game reserves, and wilderness areas.

• The Greater Addo Elephant National Park is the only national park in the world where the ‘Big Seven’ land based and marine based species can be observed in one park i.e. lions, leopards, rhino, buffalo, elephant, great white sharks and cetaceans (whales and dolphins).

• The bay hosts charismatic species of cetaceans, including killer whales, southern right and humpback whales, and four species of dolphins. The bay also contains large numbers of endemic invertebrates, seaweeds and fish (such as santer or red roman), and is a rare nursery ground for great white sharks, and southern right whales. The world famous sardine run also passes through the bay, feeding a whole suite of apex predators, and attracting international TV crews every year.

• Algoa Bay includes four estuaries that feed the productivity of the bay with nutrient input, while providing nursery areas for commercially important marine fish and invertebrates. The estuaries need to be protected from discharge of untreated waters, bringing heavy metal and plastic pollution in the bay.

• The Alexandria Coastal Dune field is the largest coastal dune field in the southern hemisphere and a proposal has been submitted to UNESCO to declare the dune fields a mixed usage World Heritage Site.

• The bay is an underwater heritage museum containing over 300 historical shipwrecks. Remains of San settlements can be found and also evidence of Vasco da Gama’s first trip around the Cape in 1488.

• Port Elizabeth is where the 1820 British Settlers landed bringing industrial skills and agricultural knowledge to the country. The British Settlers introduced sport such as rugby, cricket, hockey and soccer to the country. Port Elizabeth has a legacy of firsts and is the place where many of the first international sporting events were held.

• The Port Elizabeth beachfront is acknowledged as one of the most beautiful and safest beachfronts in the country especially for families, with Blue Flag beaches ideal for hosting many international events, such as the Iron Man, which generate large revenues for the city.

• Algoa Bay is considered to be a perfect bay for all sailing and water sport events having hosted a number of world championship events. Scuba diving in the bay can be compared with some of the best dive sites in the world based on the diversity of marine species and spectacular colour of the hard and soft coral reefs.

• Algoa Bay is undoubtedly the most studied bay in Africa contributing valuable marine scientific research data to the rest of the world. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) is rapidly growing into a nerve centre for maritime research and innovation, policy development and capacity building in Africa. Seated at NMMU are: the Coastal and Marine Research Centre, the South African International Maritime Institute, and the Chair of Law of the Sea and Development in Africa.

To protect the considerable ocean resources and rich marine life in the bay, the Algoa Bay Hope Spot Steering Committee inspired by the Mission Blue vision and global Hope Spot initiative, have agreed to the following:

• To adopt the Algoa Bay Hope Spot Declaration as a commitment to ignite public support for the global Hope Spot initiative;

• To adopt the Sea Ethic Principles as guidelines to underpin the Declaration;

• To encourage the general public to select and implement at least one idea from the list of ‘21 Things to do in a Hope Spot’. 

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