Marine Life of South Africa

© Jean Tresfon
Reefscape, De Hoop
South Africa boasts exceptionally rich marine life. The country has a huge diversity of marine ecosystems and a variety of species, which represents an enormously valuable South African resource. The West Coast is home to Atlantic ocean dwellers such as the African penguin and the cape fur seal. On the warmer East Coast, you’ll find dolphins and the Southern Right Whales thriving in the Indian Ocean. provides voluminous information on all South African marine life and species, available in the country’s 11 official languages. Learning about South African marine life emphasises the importance of marine biodiversity and protecting precious resources.


Catfish have long bodies that are at times shaped similarly to that of an eel, and their tailfins are forked. They have two to three pairs of barbels around the mouth....more


Dolphins have smooth, streamlined bodies, big foreheads that protrudes over the beak, or rostrum and a blowhole at the top of the head. Most dolphins have curved dorsal fins....more


The body of the galjoen is somewhat square-shaped. It head is big with tiny mouth and incisor-like teeth, and its tail shortened. Its fins have prominent spines....more

Hammerhead Sharks

Hammerheads are characterised by the shape of their head, which is flattened laterally. Its eyes and nostrils are located at the ends of the hammer, which is called the cephalofoil....more

Marine Mammals of South Africa

South Africa is one of the most incredible destinations worldwide for watching marine mammals. The waters surrounding Southern Africa boast 40...more


Scorpionfish belong to the Scorpaenopsis family which comprises of 26 species. They occur on coral reefs, lying very still and camouflaging with its colours....more


Named after the stinger on their tails. Flat, disk-shaped body with triangular wings. Head not distinguishable from body. Wider than it is long. Long tail....more

Whale Shark

The whale shark belongs to the Rhincodontidae family which comprises of one genus and one species. Whale sharks are the largest living fish in the sea and can have a mass of up to 13 tons....more