Sunday, 17 June 2007 22:29

Salty water disturbs St Lucia's ecosystem

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St Lucia Estuary St Lucia Estuary
South Africa's first world heritage site - the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park - is in danger of being destroyed.  


Large quantities of salty sea water entered the estuary when huge waves hit the KwaZulu-Natal coastline earlier this year.

The park is situated on the east coast of South Africa, about 275km north of Durban. It is South Africa's third-largest protected area, spanning 280km of coastline, from the Mozambican border in the north to Mapelane south of the St Lucia estuary, and is made up of around 3 280 km

The park includes the St Lucia Game Reserve, False Bay Park, St Lucia Marine Reserve, Sodwana Bay National Park, Maputaland Marine Reserve, Cape Vidal, Ozabeni, Mfabeni, Tewate Wilderness Area and Mkuze Game Reserve.

The bird and plant life has already started to change dramatically. The estuary could be permanently altered if there's no significant rainfall in the next twelve months. The mouth has been closed for five years and was breached three months ago by high seas and strong onshore winds. With more sea water coming in than leaving, ecologists are worried about the long-term impact.

Andrew Zaloumis, the CEO of the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Authority, says: "With the salt, what has happened, the vegetation starts dying - you get high wave action and you get islands eroding - silt itself also smothers things."


The short-term effects remain positive though - the high inflow of seawater brings fish, crabs and prawns - but the long term impact could be disastrous. Zaloumis says: "If you get hyper salinity there is a negative impact on tourism because animals start dying and people come here for the animals and because it's a world heritage site."

The area is experiencing one of its worst droughts in years.

(Sabc3 Website)


Read 5762 times Last modified on Tuesday, 05 January 2010 21:35

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