There is no vegetation on Pelican Point whereas Paaltjies is very sparsely vegetated with Salsola shrubs. This area’s beach supports sandy shore animals such as sand hoppers and white mussels as well as many terrestrial insects, especially flies that are attracted by the debris on the shore. Other mammals include Blackbacked Jackals and a non-breeding colony of Cape fur seals, normally numbering some 5,000, but sometimes expanding to a significantly larger number. Heavyside’s and Bottle-nose Dolphins frequent the surrounding waters. Numerous terns roost on the point and nests of Whitefronted and Chestnut-banded plovers are found here. Other birds such as African Black Oystercatcher, Eurasian Curlew, and both Lesser Flamingos and Greater Flamingos may be seen here. The bird count in our summer months at Pelican Point average out at 15,000 birds. White mussels and other organisms occur in the sand of the surf zone. Jackals are often seen in this area, while Damara Terns nest on the elevated parts.
Apart from hosting the lighthouse and service building for Namport, the Pelican Point peninsula protects the socio-economically important harbour from the waves of the Benguela current. This area is a tourism key point because of herds of seals and roosting shorebirds, Heavyside Dolphins and scenic views. In addition it is also the destination for local residents, visitors and tourists for surf and shoreangling during December-February as well as picnickers who visit the area with both regular vehicles and ORVs. Paaltjies forms a passage for tourists traveling with ORVs to Sandwich Bay.
Protection of the seals and birds from disturbances therefore requires that all traffic must keep a distance of 50 m from seals and roosting flocks of birds. ORV traffic on the beach may also frighten away some coastal fish. Wind-blown plastic (particularly plastic bait bags) and discarded fish lines pose a threat to seabirds and marine life (seals, turtles etc.) that mistake plastic for foods and ingest it causing harm and even death. Fish lines could cause entanglement of seabirds. Litter detracts from the area’s natural beauty and could negatively affect eco-tourism. Besides litter from visitors, oil and debris from offshore vessels also pollute the point.
The first use of Walvis Bay as a harbour dates back to the late 18th century, though today there are no remains of historical harbour elements. The Walvis Bay harbour is the most important import/export port on Namibia’s extensive coast, as it serves landlocked countries north and east of Namibia. The port plays a vital role in the socio-economic development and livelihood for the Walvis Bay community due to substantial and diverse commercial harbour operations. Activities in and around the port provide 80% of the direct and indirect employment opportunities. Despite the busy and heavy shipping traffic many marine animals and birds thrive within the confines of the bay, between Pelican Point and the Lagoon.
The main negative effects of harbour dredging activities include the smothering of sea floor habitat by settling sediments and the release of contaminants. The port authority, Namport, is responsible for the harbour/bay oil spill contingency plan, which makes provision for oil to be cleaned from this area at all times.
The following issues are important factors in the management and development of the bay area:
- protection of seals and seabirds;
- preservation of natural sand spit dynamics;
- restricted access conservation;
- motorised vehicles prohibition;
- controlling shore angling permits;
- provision of information about key features and the vulnerability of the area;
- support to and further development of eco-tourism opportunities;
- preservation of roosting shorebirds by means of information;
- provision of more opportunities for supporting mixed recreation;
- angling from coastline, mainly between November and April;
- disturbances because of recreational and tourism activities from land and from sea;
- litter and debris from visitors, etc.