The southern tip of the African continent is the meeting place of two mighty and bountiful oceans, the Indian and the Atlantic. The Two Oceans Aquarium is ideally positioned to showcase the incredible diversity of marine life found in these two oceans.
Warm water life
The warm exhibits of our Diversity Gallery are home to vibrant tropical beauties from the warm Indian Ocean. Our exhibits include the very popular interactive Western clownfish (AKA Nemo) exhibit, honeycomb, floral and geometric moray eels and a coral reef exhibit. This gallery also features a 3m-wide cylindrical exhibit showcasing the dazzling colours of Indian Ocean fish.
“There are some 2 200 fish species in South African seas, equivalent to about 15% of the total number of marine fish species worldwide! Strikingly, up to 13% are endemic, ranking amongst the highest anywhere.”
Our cold Atlantic Ocean exhibits include cryptic fishes playing hide and seek, translucent jellies, and the shy master of camouflage: the common octopus. We also showcase the endemic, endangered Knysna seahorse and several special shysharks.
“Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa, is officially the place where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. South Africans love to argue about this! ”
Cold Benguela Current
The cold Benguela Current flows sluggishly northwards off South Africa's west coast. Here, biological production is high and species diversity is low. Planktonic animals (zooplankton) feed on phytoplankton and are eaten by filter-feeding fish such as pilchards and anchovies. The west coast is one of the richest fishing grounds in the world, supporting huge commercial fisheries and large colonies of Cape fur seals and endangered African penguins.
During summer, strong south-easterly winds blow along the coastline, resulting in upwellings of icy cold, nutrient-rich water. The phytoplankton flourish and prolific forests of giant kelp plants dominate the shoreline.
Mighty Agulhas Current
The Agulhas Current, one of the most powerful currents in the world, flows southwards down the east coast of South Africa, bringing warm Indian Ocean water from tropical regions. The coastal waters are warm, generally clear and low in nutrients. Diversity is the name of the game on the east coast, and a great variety of colourful fish, such as butterflyfish, damsels, surgeons and angelfish add spice to life on the reef.
Although there is great diversity on the east coast, the population size of each species is restricted due to fierce competition for food, limited space on the reef, and a high number of predators.