Aliwal Shoal is one of the country’s major dive sites where ‘raggies’ aka ragged-tooth sharks are in abundance for five months of the year.
The offshore reef in the MPA is made up of soft and hard corals including sponges and fossilised sandstone. The reef lies 5 km offshore from the Umkomaas River mouth, close to the coastal village of the same name. The marine protected area extends 18.3km along the coast between the Mzimayi and Umkomaas river mouths, and extends 7km out to sea, and there are shipwrecks within the MPA borders.
Ragged- tooth sharks, zambezi (bull) sharks, tiger sharks, hammerheads and whale sharks are protected when in the Aliwal Shoal MPA.
From May to November each year humpback whales, as well as humpback and bottlenose dolphins occur here more regularly than other times of the year. Turtles and reef fish habituate the MPA because the reef is a breeding ground and nursery area for them.
Being such a popular dive site and fishing area, the seas are inundated with divers, ski-boat fishers, charter fishers, spear fishers, rock/surf fishers and commercial fishers, which causes a fair amount of conflict. As a result one of the objectives of the MPA is to reduce user conflicts in the Aliwal Shoal MPA as well as to provide protection to conserve the marine ecosystem and marine habitats at Aliwal Shoal MPA.