Algoa Bay islands are a collection of islands in Algoa Bay: the St Croix group, comprising St Croix, Jahleel and Brenton islands; and the Bird Island group, consisting of Bird, Seal and Stag islands, as well as Black Rocks. The islands are protected environmentally by the South African government and managed by SANParks as part of the Greater Addo Elephant National Park. The group of islands in Algoa Bay are together recognised as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) by BirdLife-SA as well as a global Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) by IUCN and fall within the 1,200 km2 Addo Elephant MPA. 1,200 km2 (proclaimed in 2019).
The Algoa Bay islands together host the largest global populations of Cape gannets classified as Endangered on Bird Island. Until recently, St. Croix Island was the world’s largest breeding colony of African penguins but has declined dramatically by over 70% since 2014, likely due to industrial expansion and anthropogenic activities.
Threats to these seabird populations are similar to the other island colonies but with the additional human-related disturbance with an increase in ship traffic associated with the nearby Port of Ngqura, as well as increased risk of oil pollution threats relating to ship-to-ship fuel bunkering permitted in the bay. SANCCOB has responded to three oil spills in recent years (2016, 2019 and 2021) caused by this high-risk activity.
Due to Bird and St Croix islands facing a high risk of oil spills due to the volume of ship-to-ship bunkering in the area, it is essential to have a Penguin and Seabird Ranger stationed at these islands. Zamo Lazola, SANCCOB’s Penguin and Seabird Ranger, is based on Bird Island and assists SANParks with monitoring St Croix Island, which is uninhabited. He plays a crucial role in rescuing and stabilising seabirds on the islands as transportation of birds off the island can be logistically challenging.
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As an ongoing initiative, the Chick Bolstering Project has several fundable components, including costs associated with rescuing and rearing chicks during periods of mass abandonment.