Garden Route Marine Life

Map of Gardem Route


More than 100 species of fish are known to occur along this coast. Some species found on reefs include zebra, doublesash butterflyfish, blacktail, roman, elf, galjoen and yellowbelly rockcod. Some of the finest soft coral reefs in the world are found here with sponges, starfish and many shellfish including our unique Pansy Shell. Common marine mammals are dolphins, whales and seals. During winter months, the spectacular Southern Right Whales are resident in our bay when they arrive up from the southern oceans to calve.

List of Marine Life:

The Southern Cape region is an overlap of cold and warm sea currents and is a meeting place of marine mammals the world over. There is a great diversity of marine mammals that occur in South African waters (up to 40 species!). This includes the largest mammal that has ever existed; the blue whale (33m; 172 tonnes).

Like other mammals, whales and dolphins (Cetaceans) are air-breathers and must surface to breathe, expelling a spout of air and water vapour as they do so. They are warm-blooded, giving birth to live young, which they suckle. They can see both above and below the water surface by changing the lens shape of their eyes. A thick layer of fatty blubber serves as insulation. Highly specialised, whales and dolphins have lost or modified their limbs into flippers for stability and steering. Their horizontal tail-flukes provide propulsion. Both whales and dolphins jump out of the water, 'breaching', some whales slapping the surface with flippers and tail flukes.

Cetaceans form two groups: toothed, which eat mainly fish and squid; and those that have comb-like baleen plates that strain plankton.

Size Matters

Whale Watching in Knysna and along the Garden Route