Media Release: Have a whale of a time in the TMNP's Marine Protected Area
The seas around the Cape Peninsula are rich in marine biodiversity as this area is a transitional zone where the warm Benguela and cold Atlantic currents mix. In July 2004 the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area (MPA) was proclaimed in order to ensure the sustainable use of marine resources and provide protection for the varied species found in our oceans.
The MPA includes 1000 km2 of the sea and 142 km of coastline around the Cape Peninsula from Moullie Point in the north to Muizenberg in the south. While fishing is allowed in the majority of the MPA - subject to state issued permits available at local post offices, regulations and seasons - it also includes six restricted or "no-take" zones where no fishing or extractive activities are allowed.
These no-take zones are important breeding and nursery grounds for marine life and through leaving these undisturbed there will ultimately be an increase in marine stock and threatened species are given a chance to regenerate.
False Bay Hot Spots
- Cape Point Lighthouse
- Smitswinkel Bay view sight
- Castle Rock
- Fish Hoek
- Boyes Drive overlooking Kalk Bay & Muizenberg
- Kalk Bay St James area
Atlantic Sea Board Hot Spots
- Scarborough to Misty Cliffs
- Road overlooking Slangkop Lighthouse, Kommetjie
- Chapmans Peak Drive
- Llandudno to Bakoven
The most common whale to be seen in the waters off the peninsula is the Southern Right whale, so named as in the days when hunting of these now protected mammals was allowed, they were considered to be the “right” whale to hunt as they floated once harpooned, allowing for easy recovery of the carcass. Each year in late April Southern Right whales begin their annual migration from their feeding grounds in the Southern ocean and head towards our warmer waters in order to calve and raise their young in our sheltered bays.
Whale sightings begin from as early as June with the peak period being from August to September. Other whale species found off our coastline include the Humpbacked Whales, Bryde’s Whale and the occasional Killer Whale.
Whales are a protected species but remain under threat from entanglement in fishing gear, pollution, collisions with vessels, and habitat destruction. In order to protect whales from being disturbed or harassed whilst in our waters, the Marine Living Resources Act 18 of 1998 prohibits:
- People from approaching or remaining closer than 300 meters to a whale in any vessel, aircraft or other method e.g.swimming, unless they have a permit to do so.
- Engage in fishing, collecting, killing, disturbing, harassing, controlling or be in possession of any whale or part or product thereof at any time 15 m, 34 tonne Southern Right Whale that beached on shores of Kommetjie (31st July 2006).
What can you do?
- If a whale approaches you in the water, proceed immediately to a distance of at least 300 metres from the whale.
- When boating please keep a careful look out for submerged whales as a collision could be lethal for yourself, your passengers and the whale.
- If watching whales from the land, do not throw objects, make excessive noise or disturb the animals in any manner.
- Please report illegal activities by calling the TMNP hotline at 086 110 6417, 24hours a day, seven days a week.
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