The Benguela seeps up from the Southern Seas and cools Namibia’s desert shores, shrouding them in perpetual mist. The icy current is largely responsible for the country’s dry climate, inhibiting cloud formation and denying rain. By way of requital, it offers great marine riches. Namibia’s southern seas, peppered with small islands, are particularly prosperous for living things, both beneath and above the surface. The waters are a web of life, the islands a haven for seals and breeding birds.
Daily buffeting winds; regular fog; strong ocean currents and icy-cold waters in a turbid cycle of upwelling. Islands that are little more than barren outcroppings of rock jutting out of the sea. For people this is an extreme environment. For fishes and crustaceans, dolphins and whales, seabirds and seals, this is plenitude.
Marine parks are a relatively recent global conservation concept, but their importance is rapidly becoming evident. While less than one percent of the world’s oceans was protected at the turn of the millennium, the figure now stands at around seven percent. Namibia’s marine riches are one of the country’s most important economic sectors and the need to manage and conserve them motivated the country’s first marine park, stretching for 400 kilometres along the southern coast. The park protects two interlinked environments: A stretch of ocean, and the rocky shorelines of a dozen islands and the coast. Seashores harbour great diversity and are a vital link in the chain of marine life.
Many of Namibia’s marine resources have been badly overexploited, starting with the unsustainable harvesting of whales and seals over a hundred years ago. Until Namibian independence, the country’s oceans were a free-for-all, incurring severe over-harvesting. Unfortunately, Namibian fisheries have struggled to unite excellent resource monitoring with sustainable harvesting quotas, and stocks such as pilchard are yet to recover.
TRAVEL TIPS - NAMIBIAN ISLANDS:
WHEN TO BE THERE:
• Access to the Namibian Islands Marine Park is currently limited
• Lüderitz is the only port from which the park is directly accessible
• Daily boat cruises are offered in the mornings from Lüderitz
• None of the islands are accessible to the public
WHAT TO DO:
• Enjoy a boat cruise out into the many bays & their islands around Lüderitz
• Explore the shoreline along the Diamond Coast Recreation Area of Tsau //Khaeb National Park
• From the coast, watch the penguins on Halifax Island with binoculars
• Go fishing or birding along the shore in designated areas near Lüderitz
WHAT TO REMEMBER:
• Afternoons along the southern coast are usually very windy
• Mornings are often foggy, clearing around midday
• Ensure you have the required permits for fishing & boating
• Both ocean & land are zoned for different uses; stay in designated areas
A dolphin cruise around the Walvis Bay Lagoon
We hoist the sails of our four sailing catamarans whenever possible, switch off the engines and let our guests experience true sailing.
The slightly cumbersome name refers to the many islands that the park protects. These create vital marine, intertidal and terrestrial habitats for ocean life and sea birds. The designation ‘marine protected area’ and its acronym MPA are accepted worldwide in preference to ‘marine park’ or ‘marine reserve’. The regulations for MPAs may vary from country to country, although international guidelines are being refined.
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