Boulders Beach

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An absolute ‘must’ for all visitors is a trip to Boulders Beach. It is not just another beautiful Cape Peninsula beach of which there are so many. No, what sets this beach apart, and indeed makes it unique is it’s colony of resident African Penguins. Also known as the ‘jackass’ penguin because of the typical braying sound of the species, a couple arrived in 1982 settling on the soft white sand protected from the elements by the large granite boulders which gives the beach its name. Currently, the population numbers between 2000/3000 .

African Penguins are the only penguin species native to Southern Africa. Although isolated colonies exist in Hollam’s Bird Island just off the central Namibian coast and other islands including Bird Island off Algoa in the Eastern Cape, there are only two colonies on the mainland. This one at Boulders and the other at Betty’s Bay further up the southern Cape coast.

Sadly, and perhaps inevitably, the African Penguin is now endangered. Over fishing is now threatening it’s main food source, and consequent habitat destruction, tourist behaviour and pollution have added to this species’ woes. And even here at Boulders Beach the numbers have been steadily dwindling over the past few years. So let’s enjoy them while we can..

The genus name is ‘Spheniscus” derived from ‘sphen’ which is the old Greek word for ‘wedge’, which in turn refers to the streamlined wedge shaped body of this bird which allows itself to move effortlessly through the water. The Latin name is ‘Demersus’ and this means diving or plunging, a reflection of their superb diving ability. These black and white African penguins are flightless with small wings and when on land walk with an ungainly waddle. But it is those wings, which used skilfully as flippers demonstrate their unparalleled swimming prowess. And thick overlapping feathers assist with essential waterproofing and insulation against the cold Atlantic waters and the wind.