Marine Life

I love the water: one of my earliest memories is of learning to swim. That being said, I have tremendous respect for all bodies of water, especially the ocean. I recently bought a copy of Two Oceans: A Guide to the Marine Life of Southern Africa to start identify some of the critters we saw in Arniston recently. I tell you: if I caught a glimpse of some of the crawlies pictured I’d be on dry land in no time!

Cape Fur Seal

Cape Fur Seal, 16 Mile Beach, West Coast National Park
Cape Fur Seal, Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus

Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus

We saw this big seal on 16 Mile Beach in the West Coast National Park. It was clearly suffering, though we couldn’t see any obvious injury.

Sighting: 16 Mile Beach [April]

Cape Sea Urchin

Parechinus angulosus

Sea urchins are fairly common along the coastline. You will also often come across their fairly delicate, prettily patterned green shells along the shore which are known by the cute Afrikaans name “see-pampoentjies” (sea pumpkins).

The live animals are covered in sharp, brittle spines which break off under your skin should you handle them.

This article on the Two Oceans Aquarium site makes for interesting reading.

They are edible and occur in the cuisine of a number of nations, including sushi, though I must admit I do not think I am brave enough to try!

Red Starfish

Red Starfish, Callopatiria granifera
Red Starfish, Callopatiria granifera

Callopatiria granifera

We spotted this little guy in a rock pool on the way to Waenhuiskrans Cave.

Sighting: Arniston [September]

Southern Right Whale

Southern right whales (Eubalaena australis), Arniston
Southern right whales, Eubalaena australis

Eubalaena australis

Southern Right Whales visit our warm waters annually to calve, arriving in August. They are commonly seen close to shore on the East coast in False Bay, Hermanus, De Hoop, Arniston and elsewhere.

Sighting: Arniston [September]

Three-spot Swimming Crab

Three-spot Swimming Crab, Ovalipes trimaculatus
Three-spot Swimming Crab, Ovalipes trimaculatus

Ovalipes trimaculatus

This crab is common on sandy shores in South African. It has a characteristic “sad face” pattern on its carapace.

Sighting: 16 Mile Beach [April]

West Coast Rock Lobster

Jasus lalandii

The West Coast, or Cape Rock Lobster is commonly called crayfish, or kreef.

I am more familiar with these guys on a braai grid than I am with them in their natural habitat I am afraid. They make fine eating and as a result have been over-fished for years despite strict measures to protect them.

The gazetted regulations in terms of the Marine Living Resources Act (Act No. 18 of 1988) for the recreational fishing of West Coast rock lobster includes (among others):

  • A bag limit of four per permit holder per day for own use;
  • The possession of a recreational rock lobster permit (obtainable at any SA Post Office);
  • Recreational permit-holders collecting and landing West Coast rock lobster may do so only between 8am and 4pm. The rock lobsters must be landed by or before 4pm.
  • No person shall buy, barter, sell, or offer for sale any rock lobster which is caught with a recreational permit.

The current season started 15 November 2012 and closes 01 April 2013.

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