St Croix Island Marine Reserve

The St Croix Island Marine Reserve lies in Algoa Bay just north-east of Port Elizabeth

Eastern Cape Game and Nature ReservesThe St Croix Island Marine Reserve

The St Croix Island Marine Reserve lies in Algoa Bay, a series of three islands (the islands of the cross) just north-east of Port Elizabeth.

St Croix and its two sister islets Jahleel Island and Brenton Rock - are quartzitic outcrops of the Table Mountain Group, almost entirely devoid of soil. They form the base of the largest breeding colony of African penguins on the planet.

There is another set of three islands in close proximity known as the Bird Island group. Collectively the six islands are considered important because they are the only islands along the stretch of coastline between Cape Agulhas and Inhaca Island in Mozambique. Combined they provide a surface area of 40 hectares.

St Croix is small at only 12 hectares in size. Yet alongside the 22 000 penguins it supports one also often spots Cape fur seals, sharks, dolphins and a variety of seabird life - Cape gannets, white-breasted cormorants, African black oystercatchers and rock pigeon.

The St Croix group and a 300 metre maritime zone around each island became an island marine reserve in 1981, originally as part of what was then the Woody Cape Nature Reserve. The Woody Cape Nature Reserve, with the islands, was later incorporated into the Addo National Elephant Park, which now boasts the 'big seven' as a result.

Conservationists are outspoken about the threat to this group of islands. There are very few growing colonies of penguins in the world. This particular one has increased steadily over the last century probably because penguins from other colonies on the decline are relocating here.

They, and the seabirds of the St Croix group, are considered under threat from the Ngqura deep water port. Visitors are not encouraged although there are charter boats for penguin viewing and the seas around St Croix are considered excellent dive sites.

Attractions in St Croix Island Marine Reserve

St Croix Island Penguins

St Croix is home to the largest African penguin colony in the world. It lies 4 km offshore between the Coega and Sundays River mouths, part of a group of coastal island clustered roughly into two groups of three islands each. St Croix, a 12 ha rocky...

More info and photographs: St Croix Island Penguins Colony

SAMREC Penguin Rehab Center

For a truly phenomenal experience for any animal lover and an extraordinary educational trip that may change your perspective on things, be sure to visit the African penguin rehabilitation centre in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve in...

More info and photographs: SAMREC African Penguin Rehabilitation Center

Raggy Charters Penguin Patrol

Raggy Charters is a local company that is based at the Port Elizabeth Harbour and is committed to showcasing the invaluable marine life of Nelson Mandela Bay and to educating visitors about the importance of maintaining a healthy...

More info and photographs: Penguin Patrol with Raggy Charters

Did you know?

Alongside the 22 000 penguins St Croix Island Marine Reserve supports, one also often spots Cape fur seals, sharks, dolphins and a variety of seabird life.

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