Re­mem­ber, t­he­re is li­fe be­ne­ath Knys­na’s fa­vou­ri­te play­ground

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Sport -

SANParks is es­ca­la­ting the le­vel of a­wa­re­ness i­ni­ti­a­ti­ves con­cer­ning the Knys­na es­tu­a­ry, a po­pu­lar wa­ter play­ground for lo­cals and vi­si­tors a­li­ke.

Of the 249 na­ti­o­nal es­tu­a­ries for­ming part of a stu­dy con­ducted by Ja­ne Tur­pie and Bar­ry Clar­ke (2007), the Knys­na es­tu­a­ry was ran­ked a­bo­ve the St Lu­cia Wor­ld He­ri­ta­ge Si­te in terms of bi­o­di­ver­si­ty sig­ni­fi­can­ce. This was de­ter­mi­ned by the num­ber of its fish spe­cies, bi­rds and bo­ta­ni­cal da­ta.

The es­tu­a­ry, in the Gar­den Rou­te Na­ti­o­nal Park (GRNP), is ho­me to 43% of South A­fri­ca’s plant and a­ni­mal li­fe, and con­tri­bu­tes so­me 21.6% of the to­tal e­co­no­mic va­lue of the 249 na­ti­o­nal es­tu­a­ries.

“Es­tu­a­ries are im­por­tant nur­se­ry a­re­as for ju­ve­ni­les, w­hi­le a­dults al­so spend ti­me in the es­tu­a­ries fee­ding. Ex­am­ples in­clu­de spot­ted grun­ter, dus­ky kob, whi­te steen­bras, Cape stump­no­se and leer­vis),” says SANParks ma­ri­ne e­co­lo­gist Ky­le S­mith.

They are un­der a ran­ge of pres­su­res in­clu­ding chan­ges to wa­ter in­flow, pol­lu­ti­on (plas­ti­cs, fer­ti­li­ser, or­ga­nic) which can im­pact the he­alth of the es­tu­a­ry, ha­bi­tat qua­li­ty and its suit­a­bi­li­ty for fish and bait spe­cies.

The Knys­na es­tu­a­ry is al­so South A­fri­ca’s most im­por­tant se­a­grass si­te with an es­ti­ma­ted 355ha to 420ha of Cape dwarf eel­grass (Ma­ree, 2000; Band­ei­ra and Gell, 2003; CES, 2009).

Both the Cape dwarf eel­grass (Short et al., 2007, 2011) and the fau­na that it sup­ports in Knys­na are of very high con­ser­va­ti­on im­por­tan­ce (Hodg­son and Al­lan­son, 2000; Rus­sell et al., 2009), con­tri­bu­ting to the es­tu­a­ry re­cei­ving the hig­hest ran­king in terms of its e­co­lo­gi­cal im­por­tan­ce.

So­me chal­len­ges in ma­na­ging the sy­stem, ac­cor­ding to GRNP ma­na­ger Pad­dy Gor­don, in­clu­de:

Mo­re work to en­s­u­re pol­lu­ti­on stays a­way from the es­tu­a­ries and the o­ce­an. W­hi­le the work of the Knys­na Pol­lu­ti­on Acti­on car­ries on e­very week as­ses­sing all sour­ces of pol­lu­ti­on and any in­ci­dents that may ne­ga­ti­ve­ly im­pact the bacte­ri­o­lo­gi­cal qua­li­ty of the wa­ter, mo­re must s­till be do­ne.

Mo­re e­du­ca­ti­o­nal i­ni­ti­a­ti­ves and a shared en­vi­ron­men­tal e­du­ca­ti­on plan and re­sour­ces.

Mo­re re­se­arch pro­jects are re­qui­red to un­der­stand all as­pects of the Knys­na es­tu­a­ry which is the wor­ld’s one and on­ly es­tu­a­ri­ne Ho­pe S­pot (con­ser­va­ti­on, tou­rism, skills, so­ci­oe­co­no­mic), de­cla­red by Dr Syl­via Ear­le in 2015.

SANParks is re­que­s­ting u­sers of the es­tu­a­ry to exe­r­ci­se cau­ti­on w­hen u­sing the es­tu­a­ry and note plant li­fe and a­ni­mals in the es­tu­a­ry. –

Pho­tos: Sup­p­lied

Dolphins can be seen fro­licking in the Knys­na es­tu­a­ry from ti­me to ti­me. INSET: The i­co­nic Knys­na se­a­horse needs no in­tro­ducti­on.

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