Think about the view of Earth from outer space and you can almost hear Sir David Attenborough describe our blue planet. Two thirds of our world’s surface is covered with water. What better way to celebrate Earth Day 2017 than by diving deep into our oceans?

This year’s Earth Day on 22 April focuses largely on environmental and climate literacy. Our oceans play an unmissable role in regulating the climate, but according to the World Wildlife Fund, less than 4% are formally protected. Compare that to the 15% of terrestrial areas that are safeguarded.

South Africa currently hosts more than 20 Marine Protected Areas, better known as MPAs, scattered along the country’s coastline. These no-take and controlled zones are critical for conserving marine biodiversity and ecosystems. Research has shown that they are invaluable spawning sites, allowing our fishing waters to become restocked.

The pristine beauty of these MPAs is also a huge draw card for researchers and eco-tourists – and no wonder, the creatures occurring along South Africa’s coast are a sight to behold. These images from Two Oceans (R390, Struik Nature), the definite guide to the country’s marine life, vividly illustrate the beauty, power and grace found below the surface.

Two Oceans Fourth Edition-Struik Nature-Dwarf Spotted Anemone

As little is known about the dwarf-spotted anemone, it is currently being described and named.

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Triviella ovulata occurs in the waters from the Cape Point to the southern Wild Coast.

Two Oceans Fourth Edition-Struik Nature-Paperfish

The paperfish looks like a leaf with a compressed head and body.

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This fish, the jumping bean, can be identified by its noticeable blue spine on the gill cover.

Two Oceans Fourth Edition-Struik Nature-White Pelican

Eastern white pelicans are frequent visitors to lagoons and estuaries, and are common near the coast. They breed on Dassen Island and at Lake St Lucia and Walvis Bay.

Two Oceans Fourth Edition-Struik Nature-Dugong

The dugong population is severely depleted due to hunting, net entanglement and habitat destruction.

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You might mistake the bright-coloured giant angler as a rock or sponge.

Three lucky Wild fans stand a chance to win a copy of the recently released fourth edition of Two Oceans by George Branch, Charles Griffiths, Margo Branch and Lynnath Beckley, courtesy of Struik Nature. With more than 2,000 covered species, the book offers a window onto the sea’s sponges, arthropods, mammals, birds, and much more. Appreciation for our seas and its living wonders are key to conservation.

A few MPAs to explore

SANParks

  • Langebaan Lagoon plus Malgas, Marcus and Jutten islands in West Coast National Park
  • Table Mountain National Park
  • Bird Island, part of Addo Elephant National Park
  • Tsitsikamma, part of Garden Route National Park

CapeNature

  • Goukamma
  • Robberg
  • De Hoop
  • Betty’s Bay, part of the Kogelberg Nature Reserve Complex
  • Rocherpan

WIN! WIN! WIN!

Wild is giving away three copies of the fourth edition of Two Oceans courtesy of Struik Nature. Want to win your copy worth R390? Email the answer to the question below to [email protected] (subject line: Two Oceans) before 20 May 2017, and remember to include your full names, contact details and postal address. Wild will randomly select the winners. Winners will be notified via email. Good luck!

Question: Name one of the authors of Two Oceans.

Sources: Bay of Plenty by Peter Chadwick, Wild Winter 2014; Two Oceans (Fourth Edition).

*Pictures taken from Two Oceans (Fourth Edition) courtesy of Struik Nature