The Living Edens

Namib: a Khoikhoi (Hottentot) word meaning "desert" or "place of no people."

On the coast of Africa, sea, wind, sand and sun join as in nowhere else on earth. This is the Namib, a 1,200 mile (2000 km) stretch along the southwestern African coast where a burning desert touches an icy sea.

Aerial view of coastline with ocean, fog and dunes

Wind breathes life into this world. As the longshore winds blow surface waters of the Atlantic northward, cold water from the deep Benguela Current surges up to take its place. This coastal "upwelling" brings water rich with nutrients from the lifeblood of the ocean. In this highly nutritious space, plankton bloom in explosive amounts, serving as food for filter-feeding fish. In turn, these filter-feeders serve as food for larger fish, birds and mammals. About three quarters of Africa's flamingos feed along these shores, and all sea birds time their breeding to take advantage of the seasonal gluts of fish. The fertile waters of the Benguela attract fur seals from colder climes; more than half a million breed along the Namib -- one for every seven feet of coastline

The ocean winds and Benguela Current have a profound effect on the hyper-arid Namib ecosystem. They temper the climate of the coastal desert, bringing life to the shores, and allowing for sediments deposited into the ocean to be carried back inland to form the Namib's extensive dunes. In the early morning hours, the cooler waters of the Benguela interact with the warmer air to produce fog -- a life-giving fog that fosters the survival of the many creatures that exist on the inland dunes.

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Broadcast Info | Purchase Video | Earth, Wind, and Fire | Recalling Namib
Trivia Challenge | 24 Hours in Namib | Teacher's Resources
Related Links | Screen Saver | Credits
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