|"Despite extensive modification to these systems , the estuaries remain unique and highly productive ecosystems that support complex food webs and functions as a vital spawning and nursery ground for a diverse range of marine and estuarine organisms. Between these two systems they offer almost the complete range of habitat types found in tidal reaches of estuaries, including intertidal and subtidal mudflats, sandbanks, mangroves and seagrass beds. |
The uMhlathuze Estuary is ranked in the top ten most important estuaries in South Africa from a conservation perspective. This ranking was derived by a conservation classification system that takes into account surface area, biodiversity, zonal type rarity and estuarine type of some 250 functional estuaries along the South African coast. By comparison, the Richards Bay Estuary is ranked the 26th most important estuarine system. Collectively these two estuaries have the largest area of mangroves of all South African estuaries, even larger than St Lucia."