Although the living resources of the Benguela have been exploited for several centuries, it is only recently that any significant progress has been made as regards understanding the biological processes in the ecosystem. Collections of marine animals and plants were made by naturalists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, perhaps the best known of which were described in Challenger reports. The South African demersal fishing industry developed in the early part of the twentieth century as a direct result of the pioneering studies by Dr J.D.F.Gilchrist, who is generally accepted as the father of marine science in southern Africa. Throughout the first half of the century research emphasis continued to be placed on the floristic studies. Indeed even with the advent of a major research programme after World War II to investigate the biology of the South African pilchard, Sardinops ocellatus, the work remained largely descriptive for the next two decades. Much of the effort was devoted to monitoring the system, the dynamics of which were not well understood. 1968 saw the start of process orientated biological oceanography in the Benguela region and since then substantial advances have been made in understanding the system’s complex food web.