Sodwana Bay National Park is a narrow strip of forested sand dunes located along the KwaZulu Natal coast. Proclaimed a national park in the 1950s, it is frequented by anglers and divers.
Sodwana is situated in the Maputaland Marine Reserve and the only scuba diving area along the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park (now renamed to Isimangaliso) coastline. Classified as one of the top dive sites in the world this 50 km reef complex boasts around 95 species of hard and soft coral, sponges, other invertebrates and around 1200 fish species. It attracts 35 000 scuba divers every year. Vast 700m deep valleys, submarine canyons, are strewn over a distance of 2km. It was in one of these that on 27 November 2000 that the coelacanth was rediscovered.
In recent years fish species have declined significantly in this area of the South African coast. Sailfish, King Mackerel and especially Kingfish have become virtually extinct in these reefs. Sailfish were last reported on 5 January 2007, this decline mainly due to overfishing by the large numbers of ski boats visiting these reefs annually.
In the March 2011 issue of National Geographic, a short article titled Ancient Swimmers appeared, discussing the groundbreaking discovery of elusive coelacanths in the depths of Sodwana Bay and the surrounding area. A small section of the written article explains that:
"Since this chance sighting, Latimeria chalumnae have been found in several pockets in [and around] the Indian Ocean. No one knows how many there are - maybe as few as 1,000 or as many as 10, 000. Because of the depth of their habitat, they have mainly been photographed by submersibles and remotely-operated vehicles. Divers first documented the fish [in Sodwana Bay] in 2000; in January and February 2010, a specially trained team dived to take pictures of [another] small colony in Sodwana Bay, South Africa."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Sodwana Bay|
- St Lucia South Africa Website
- Lake St Lucia
- Diving and Accommodation in Sodwana Bay
- official web page including diving information
- Accommodation in Sodwana Bay Village
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