BOULDERS AFRICAN PENGUIN COLONY
Read more about the African Penguin
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Table Mountain National Park
MORE ABOUT THE AFRICAN PENGUIN (Spheniscus demersus)
African (Jackass) Penguins are so called for the donkey-like braying sounds they make when on land. There are only 16 penguin species worldwide and Simon's Town is one of a total of 28 world penguin sites.
The Boulders Beach penguin colony is unique in that they have voluntarily inhabited suburbia and a public bathing space. Other African Penguin colonies exist on Robben, Dassen and Dyer Islands and at Betty's Bay, but these are not as easily accessible as Boulders Beach.
Jackass Penguins are birds that are almost totally adapted to life at sea and can spend long periods without landing. They feed on oil-rich pilchards, but have to feed on other fish and squid due to competition from commercial fisheries and increased seal populations.
At sea they 'fly' through the water with specially modified wings, and can attain speeds of 2.5km/hr to over 7 km/hr. Unlike whales and seals, penguins do not have blubber to insulate them against the cold, but they have a layer of air trapped beneath their feathers which gets severely damaged when coming into contact with an oil spill.
Their nests are shallow hollows in soil or stones where usually two eggs are laid. Males and females share breeding and feeding duties. Agile as they are in the sea, so they are clumsy on land, making them vulnerable to exploitation by humans and predators.
Early sailors and settlers harvested penguins. Now fully protected by law, the Jackass Penguins still face numerous threats. Among these are oil spills from ocean-going ships, which means certain death to thousands of birds if oil is washed into the feeding or breeding areas.