The immediate coast on the easternmost shore of The Sanctuary is a marine area of seabed upwelling where nutrients brought to the surface provide a rich plankton “soup”. This attracts large numbers of manta rays and whale sharks, as well as the massive humpback whale, now showing remarkable recovery after being mercilessly hunted to near extinction.
Jellyfish, feeding on plankton, attract the critically endangered Leatherback turtle. Past research has shown that male leatherbacks stay in this area while females feed here but lay eggs near the Mozambique/South African border. However, recent sightings have confirmed that both leatherback turtles and hawksbill turtles actually nest on The Sanctuary, joining the loggerhead and green turtles that come ashore to lay eggs each summer and the Olive Ridley turtles that feed in The Sanctuary’s waters.
The elusive and critically endangered dugong finds shelter in The Sanctuary’s protected waters and may most often be seen around Bangue Island and further north towards Paradise Island. Schools of humpback dolphins are a regular sighting in The Sanctuary’s waters, regularly parading up and down directly in front of the beaches at high tide.
To further protect these increasingly rare species, and to promote fish and invertebrate breeding, The Sanctuary has implemented Marine Protected Areas, also known as no-fishing zones, with essential cooperation and support from the local fishing communities. Within these zones a wide variety of fish species breed in abundance. Sensitive areas such as seagrass beds are recovering well with spinoff benefits to dugongs, fish, invertebrates and bird numbers.
The intention of The Sanctuary is to provide a network of protected marine areas / breeding grounds adequate to significantly enhance regional fish and invertebrate stocks and, in so doing, to produce ever increasing numbers of stocks to migrate from our waters to the ocean.