The Marine Big Five – South Africa
By Candice Lombard – Gansbaai Explore Community Manager
When visiting Africa, seeing the Big Five is always at the top of everyone’s list and often the number one reason why most travellers venture to our unforgettable and untamed continent. But heading towards the southern tip of this great continent, we celebrate a different kind of animal majesty. Welcome to Gansbaai, home to the Marine Big Five.
Our bountiful waters expertly enriched with the clashing of the two giant ocean currents that hug Africa plays host to the most intricate marine ecosystem ever imagined. Ranging from the majestic gentle giants of the ocean to the king of the underwater jungle, the Marine Big Five captures the imagination and awe of all.
Gansbaai is widely known as the Big 2 Town which it gained from the vast amounts of Southern Right Whales that migrate to our moderate waters every year between May and December. Our sheltered bays lend them the perfect destination to mate, play and nurse their young. The second celebrity that lends to the name is the famous Great White Shark. The discovery of the large population that inhabit the waters between Kleinbaai and Dyer Island, also known as Shark Alley, was the rise to fame for this former fisherman’s village.
The thriving Shark Cage Diving industry, although focused on the conservation and education of these incredible Apex Predators might want to give thanks to the next marine mammal on the list.
Found on the banks and rocky outcrops of Geyser Rock adjacent to Dyer Island, the colony of Cape Fur Seals is a true sight to behold. At any given time the 55,000 strong colony can be seen hunting, playing and basking in the warm African sun. Always busy and always curious, they don’t seem to pay their neighbours too much attention. Sharing the waters but not their island, the deftly dressed Cape or African Penguins can be found going about their days. These endangered yet enigmatic birds have claimed the now protected Dyer Island as their new home, along with other endangered pelagic birds like the Cape Cormorant and Black Oystercatcher.
And finally we find the marine animal that has crept into the hearts of millions, the Bottlenose Dolphin. Scores of Bottlenose Dolphins grace us with their presence and water skills that put the best of our surfers to shame every year. Also making Walker Bay one of their frequent holiday spots, these agile water dogs can often be seen catching a wave or following local fishing and shark boats.
Gansbaai has truly grown into the White Shark Capital of the World, but now due to the congregation of all these awe-inspiring marine species we can also claim our name as the Home of the Marine Big Five. Why not visit Gansbaai Explore and see what other treasures the area holds, including the best accommodation, various outdoor adventures and local businesses.
Video and images are thanks to Grootbos Private Nature Reserve – a Luxury 5-star eco-lodge just outside of Gansbaai.
See also how scientists developed shark safe barrier in Gansbaai