If you want to see the threatened African Penguins (Spheniscus demersus) there is no better place in South Africa than Simon's Town. Since they also have a marina we were definitely stopping there. The marina is in the middle of the town and it is only about 2 km to the areas where the penguins live. We went there by foot and when we found the first beach we wanted to pass by and go directly to the national park area. But then we saw a small group of penguins sitting on one of the stones enjoying the sun. We observed them for a while and watched them waddle around on land but mutate to a torpedo after jumping into the water.

01_False_Bay_the_natural_environment_of_the_African_penguins_and_the_African_fur_seals_as_well_as_the_great_white_sharks
01_False_Bay_the_natural_environment_of_the_African_penguins_and_the_African_fur_seals_as_well_as_the_great_white_sharks
02_You_can_observe_them_on_any_beach_around_Simons_Town
02_You_can_observe_them_on_any_beach_around_Simons_Town
03_African_penguins_(Spheniscus_demersus-Brillenpinguin)_were_called_Jackass_Penguins_before_because_of_their_donkey-like_braying
03_African_penguins_(Spheniscus_demersus-Brillenpinguin)_were_called_Jackass_Penguins_before_because_of_their_donkey-like_braying
04_Seaforthe_Beach_in_Simons_Town
04_Seaforthe_Beach_in_Simons_Town

Then we decided to move on to Foxy Beach where the beach is fenced to protect the penguins. For a small entrance fee you can walk on boardwalks very close to the main colony. There are also signs with information on the area and the penguins and we also discovered a penguin which was protecting his egg. The breeding season starts only in February but some of them apparently are early birds. Most of them are still mating and sit in twos on the beach or under the bushes, which were replanted in this area. Sometimes they already sit in front of a nest which can be a shallow scrape, burrows in sand or even an artificial structure like the nest baskets set up for them. Those penguins are monogamous and stay together their whole life. And you often see them cuddling or touching each other tenderly.

05_African_penguins_are_social_breeders_and_nist_in_colonies
05_African_penguins_are_social_breeders_and_nist_in_colonies
05_From_just_two_breeding_pairs_the_colony_has_grown_to_almost_3000_penguins
05_From_just_two_breeding_pairs_the_colony_has_grown_to_almost_3000_penguins
06_An_early_breedinr_enjoying_the_sunny_day
06_An_early_breedinr_enjoying_the_sunny_day
06_Enjoying_a_swim_in_the_ocean
06_Enjoying_a_swim_in_the_ocean
07_A_group_of_penguins_coming_back_on_shore
07_A_group_of_penguins_coming_back_on_shore
08_African_penguins_only_start_breeding_at_four_years_of_age
08_African_penguins_only_start_breeding_at_four_years_of_age
09_Mating_season_has_begun
09_Mating_season_has_begun
10_Nests_range_from_a_shallowscrape_in_the_open_to_burrows_in_sand_or_guano
10_Nests_range_from_a_shallowscrape_in_the_open_to_burrows_in_sand_or_guano
11_Artificial_nesting_places_on_Foxy_Beach
11_Artificial_nesting_places_on_Foxy_Beach
12_Some_early_ones_already_layed_their_egg
12_Some_early_ones_already_layed_their_egg
13_African_Penguins_are_monogamous_and_like_to_cuddle
13_African_Penguins_are_monogamous_and_like_to_cuddle
14_Different_color_morph
14_Different_color_morph

From just two breeding pairs in 1986, the penguin colony has grown to almost 3.000 in recent years. This is partly due to the reduction in commercial trawling in False Bay, which has increased the supply of small fish which their main food source.

Even better to get in touch with the penguins is Boulders Beach where you can go swimming with and lie on the beach between them. But you have to be careful often that they do not bite or lunge at you since you have to pass quite closely. Their sharp beaks could cause serious injuries. Once in a while you see one penguin looking different because the feathers stand out and are not in shape. This means that he is moulting, the old feathers are replaced and during this time, for about 21 days, the birds loose their waterproofing and are confined to land. It is a time of starvation for them. One time we observed a pair balancing a fresh egg on some rocks. We just thought about how they will manage to keep it on the rock and at that moment it happened. One of them pushed the egg and it fell onto the sand. Within one second a seagull moved down and took the egg. The poor penguin pair looked miserable and searched for the egg for a while.

15_Getting_close_to_the_penguins_at_Boulders_Beach
15_Getting_close_to_the_penguins_at_Boulders_Beach
16_Even_penguins_have_to_yawn
16_Even_penguins_have_to_yawn
17_They_can_even_sleep_while_standing_up
17_They_can_even_sleep_while_standing_up
18_Penguins_have_very_sharp_beaks_that_can_cause_serious_injuries_if_they_bite_or_lunge
18_Penguins_have_very_sharp_beaks_that_can_cause_serious_injuries_if_they_bite_or_lunge
19_At_Boulders_Beach_you_can_even_go_in_the_water_with_the_penguins
19_At_Boulders_Beach_you_can_even_go_in_the_water_with_the_penguins
20_Old_worn_feathers_are_replaced_during_the_annual_moult
20_Old_worn_feathers_are_replaced_during_the_annual_moult

Other marine animals you can observe in big groups on the open ocean and especially in the bay in front of Cape Town are the South African or Cape Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus). Time and again there are small groups floating on the surface and sticking their extremities in the air. That is when they rest or even sleep and once in a while they will get startled and dive because we are sailing by. At our anchorage in Simon's Town we even had our own Fur Seal which loved to chill under our boat. Fur Seals are the main food for the Great White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) which breed in this area. At the moment it is not main season but still some sailors could observe them around their boats and one was even spotted inside the Simon's Town Marina.

Shortly before going out onto the Atlantic we made a short stop at Robben Island and were surprised by a whale coming up for air in front of the boat. Apparently there is a group of young humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) which seem to stay and find food here all year. They swam around our boat at the anchorage and opened their mouths to eat as many small shrimp as possible. One of them even came so close that he almost swallowed our anchor chain. So we were able to see the baleen inside the mouth for the first time. An amazing sight which we will never forget.

And finally when we started our journey towards Ascension we saw some Albatross (Diomedeidae) flying their circles next to our boat and some Common Dolphins (Delphinus delphis) - for us definitely not common. What a nice goodbye from Africa.

project manaia

Krüss Mikroskope