Most of the tidal salt marsh that surrounds Leisure Isle is a proclaimed Invertebrate Reserve under the jurisdiction of the SANParks (see map in SANParks brochure Boating on the Knysna Lagoon.) The area of the Reserve is delineated by a series of beacons, and is roughly the area between Leisure Isle and Thesen Islands to the north, Woodbourne to the east and the Heads to the south. Within this area no-one may collect any shellfish or bait organisms such as mud prawns, bloodworms, pencil bait or any other invertebrate bait. This applies even to people in possession of a bait licence.

The only area around Leisure Isle where bait may be collected is the section which stretches south-west from Beacon K7 at the corner of Thella Crescent and Cearn Drive to Beacon K9 at Lands End.

Salt marshes are rare and threatened, and their health and preservation are essential not only for the estuarine food chain but also for the whole marine environment - many ocean fishes rely on estuaries during part of their life cycles.

The SANParks' brochure Salt Marshes of the Knysna Lagoon (obtainable from the SANParks' office at Thesen's Wharf) explains the importance and fascination of salt marshes, and emphasizes their fragility in the face of growing development and human pressure.



The Knysna seahorse is the world's only known estuarine seahorse, and is found only in the Knysna, Keurbooms and Swartvlei estuaries. Because of its limited distribution and the ongoing threat to its habitat, it is listed as endangered on the IUCN's Red List. It is an offence to catch them or disturb them in any way. The Knysna seahorse is about 7cm long, and occurs only in areas of dense eelgrass vegetation.


Pansy shell urchins occur on sand spits in the lagoon, particularly Pansy Bank off Bollard Bay. Their population has been greatly depleted by the gathering of live urchins, a practice that is illegal. SANParks patrol the area regularly at low spring tides.

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