Lake Sibaya AFR-03

Riparian Nation(s) South Africa
Surface Area 78 km2 Mean Depth 12.6 m Volume 0.98 km3
Shoreline 126.9 km Catchment Area 465 km2 Residence Time
Frozen Period None Mixing Type Polymictic Morphogenesis/Dam
Related Info/Site


Lake Sibaya is situated on the coast of the Indian Ocean in Natal Province, South Africa, near the boundary of Mozambique. The lake is surrounded by indented shorelines and has two elongated bays extending to the north and west. The surface area and mean depth are 77.5 km2 and 12.6 m. It is separated from the sea by coastal dunes only 2 km in width, and was presumably derived from an old lagoon which later became isolated by sand deposition. The water level is now 23 m above the sea surface, and fluctuates widely depending on rainfall and evaporation, because of the lack of outflowing rivers.

L. Sibaya and its surrounding area are known for the wealth of fauna containing not a few rare species and more than 200 species of birds, hippopotamus, crocodile, etc. Some 1,500 inhabitants on the lake coast live on agriculture and fishery, keeping traditional ways of fishing. Fishery products are partly exported to the other districts.

In the drainage basin, natural forests still survive mainly on sand dunes, but have been destroyed steadily owing to firewood harvest and clearing for agriculture. On the north and south sides of the lake, on the other hand, plantations of eucalypt and pine are expanding partly for use as pulp wood (1, 2, 9).

Photo of Lake Sibaya
Photo: Department of Environment Affiars and Fisheries.