St Lucia Lake is situated about 240km north of Durban, South Africa. It essentially forms part of an estuary system, with an eleven kilometre long channel connecting it with the warm Indian Ocean. The massive lake has a surface area of approximately 307 square kilometres, with a maximum length of 64 kilometres. Although it covers a very large area the lake is fairly shallow, with its depth ranging largely between 1 and 3 metres throughout.
The lake’s level and salinity levels changes on an annual basis, varying with the rise and fall of the tides, as well as with the flux of the freshwater flowing in from the region’s numerous rivers. In some years the lake’s salinity levels have reached such high levels that many species of flora and fauna have struggled to survive.
The lake itself is located within a greater area known as the ‘Greater St Lucia Wetland Area’. This is Africa’s oldest nature reserve, which supports more species of animal than the better known, and far larger, Kruger National Park. This can largely be attributed to the diversity of the eco-systems found in the reserve, which boasts lake, lagoon, freshwater swamp and grassland habitats.