Browse All Species

Marine fish

Pencilled surgeon Acanthurus dussumieri

There are 51 species of surgeon fish, 19 of which occur in southern African waters. Surgeon fish are so named because of the scalpel-like spines on either side of their tail fins, which are folded into a groove when not in use.… Read more

Freshwater fish

Common carp (alien) Cyprinus carpio

Naturally occurring in Central Asia and parts of Europe, common carp are now found in many parts of the world.  Like most other alien species, they are hardy and can tolerate a wide range of conditions, thriving in dams and large… Read more


Loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta

The loggerhead turtle, which is the most common in southern Africa, has a reddish-brown carapace and a hooked beak.  Adults reach a maximum mass of 125kg and measure up to 1.2m in length.  Loggerheads feed predominantly on sea… Read more


Western leopard toad Amietophrynus pantherinus

The Western leopard toad uses camouflage to blend into its environment and hide from predators. The Western Cape is the only place in the world where you will find Western leopard toads. They live in natural vegetation, on… Read more

Marine invertebrates

Common octopus Octopus vulgaris

According to Two Oceans: A guide to the Marine Life of Southern Africa (Struik, 2007), the common octopus lives at depths of up to 200m and feeds on crabs, shellfish and rock lobsters. It lives in crevices and holes and is fiercely… Read more


African penguin Spheniscus demersus

African penguins are found only off the coastlines of South Africa and Namibia.  They commonly breed on islands, but there are two land-based colonies – one on Boulders Beach, near Simonstown, and the other on Stony Point, near… Read more

Microscopic life


Life depends on plankton. Plankton is made up of microscopic plants (phytoplankton) and animals (zooplankton). Zooplankton feed on phytoplankton and drift with the currents. Plankton are very important in the marine food chain.… Read more