Thukela Bank Functioning

The Thukela Bank is a unique muddy, offshore habitat on the KwaZulu-Natal coast of South Africa, and harbours the only commercial shallow-water prawn fishery in the country. As such it is of considerable socio-economic importance to KwaZulu-Natal. The Bank also hosts a distinctive community of demersal fauna whose ecology is greatly influenced by the adjacent Thukela River. Over the past thirty years, the greater Natal Bight including the Thukela Bank has been a focus for sporadic research initiatives on oceanography, productivity, sedimentology and faunal composition. However, many studies were specifically aimed at addressing a particular problem or research question, and some studies were more comprehensive than others. Consequently, there is no broad understanding of the functioning of the Thukela Bank and if or how it is changing in response to the anthropogenic pressures being exerted on it. Understanding the functioning of this ecosystem would facilitate the understanding the functioning of similar, but much larger, ecosystems in other Western Indian Ocean countries.