When you cast your eyes across the expanse of the Knysna Estuary, you will most certainly marvel at its beauty. The true wonder of this celebrated aquatic realm, however, is its mind-boggling diversity of life.
Knysna’s estuary has the largest tidal volume in South Africa (measured in relation to the volume of water between low and high spring tides) and is considered the most significant in terms of the biodiversity of its estuarine fauna and flora in the country. An epic amount of water unites daily during the tidal dance that takes place between the famous sandstone headlands. Sea water washes over the salt marshes, replenishing important nutrients and flushing out waste. This daily exchange of water is part of the reason why a profusion of life exists here in so many shapes and forms.
The importance of this environment is enormous. Sylvia Earle, the celebrated marine biologist and acclaimed oceanographer of the organisation aptly named Mission Blue, recognised Knysna and surrounds several years ago as an International Hope Spot. The organisation recognises the vital role that our iconic estuary plays in the overall health of the adjacent ocean.
Hope Spots are essentially aquatic zones around the world which have been identified as being critical to the health of our oceans as a whole because of the prosperous diversity of life they hold. Everything on earth is intrinsically linked and the health of these defined areas is crucial for “sustaining biodiversity, providing a carbon sink, producing oxygen, preserving critical habitats and allowing for certain low-impact activities such as ecotourism to thrive”. Simply put, what’s good for the ocean is good for us.
So the next time you go walking on the banks or skimming across this famous body of water, take a moment to reflect on the true wonders of life which it holds and then immerse yourself in its beauty. Go sailing, Stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, snorkelling, bird watching.
Get out there and explore, you will be enriched!