The Richards Bay lagoon is famous for being the site where the longest crocodile ever recorded in South Africa was shot by hunter John Dunn in 1891.
Another of the lagoon’s claims to fame is as the starting point of Huberta the hippo’s trek. She made her way down the east coast in 1928, only to finish up on display in the Kaffrarian Museum in King William’s Town.
In 1935 work started to transform the lagoon at Richards Bay into a harbour, much to the dismay of conservationists. Therefore the harbour was designed in an attempt to accommodate the needs of both industry and the natural environment. It was decided to divide the lagoon by means of a wall built across the bay. The waters to the north of the wall became the industrial harbour and the area to the south remained a sanctuary for waterfowl and wildlife.
A new estuary was cut through the dunes and coastal bush to allow lagoon floodwaters to flow directly into the sea. Numbers of wildlife and birds in the reserve are ever-increasing, and the rare pink-backed pelican has been seen in the area. Flamingos, cormorants and various species of waders attract birdwatchers from near and far.
The Richards Bay area is also an important nursery ground for marine fish such as grunter, salmon, perch and yellowfin. It is a natural, living example of how both commerce and nature are able to exist side by side in harmony.