There’s an entire world of kelp forests you haven’t had the pleasure of exploring, and it’s right in front of you in plain sight. It is a world with fully-functional eco-systems that support each other with a population of etherial creatures and a seascape so beautiful it will literally take your breath away.
Welcome to the kelp forests of South Africa. Snaking through the dense carpet of dark green kelp underwater is an experience unlike any other. From above the water level you can be forgiven for thinking it’s nothing special, but after just one snorkel session, you’re hooked and planning the next.
South Africa is blessed with kilometres of kelp forests along the colder Cape coastlines where the plant thrives. We also have one of the largest living kelp forests in the world, thanks to the south-easterly winds that keep the water nutrients rich to preserve them.
14 000 species of sea life found in kelp forests
The most common kelp is scientifically named Ecklonia maxima and Laminaria pallida and can reach up to an astonishing 17m in length. There are also over 14 000 documented species of sea life tussled in-between.
Several fish endemic to South Africa call the kelp forest home – these include pyjama catsharks, puffadder shysharks, seven-gill cow sharks and broad-nose seven-gill cow sharks. The kelp plays an important role in their reproductive process. They lay their eggs on the kelp by weaving the tendrils of the egg casing around the algae. It is a fascinating process and aids in keeping the eggs safe from harm.
All these facts are fascinating, but the real show unfolds as you weave through the kelp and the sunlight creates a symphony of the sea… and it feels as though the silent song was created just for you.