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6.4.16

Cape Town - Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach

African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

Boulders Beach is located half an hour ride away from Cape Town. Its pristine waters and amazing granite boulders are home to a colony of thousand endangered African Penguins that established a nesting colony there, back in 1982. 

Boulders Penguin Colony is part of the Table Mountain National Park Marine protected area, to make sure the population continues to have healthy growth. 

African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
The best of visiting this site is the opportunity to observe penguins in their natural environment.
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

Penguins are very rare animals, for us living in the North hemisphere as you can see in the image below that highlights the coast line where penguins live.


Penguins are very good swimmers, but they cannot fly and struggle to walk as you can see in the video below.
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa


The African penguin is monogamous, feeds on fish, squid and small crustaceans and seeks safety in numbers by breeding and hunting in group. When you are at the beach, it is fun to see couples of penguins walking side by side, from their nest in the mountain, down to clean down in the shallow water and onto the sea for some food. Penguins remain as a couple from the moment they reach sexual maturity until they die. In fact, there have been situations when activists were cleaning down animals affected by oil spills and maybe released them back to the wild at different moments, so they would see that the some would come back to the conservation centre and wait their, until their partner is ready.

African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

They breed in colonies as this helps them protect their chicks from predators, like seagulls. A clutch of two eggs is laid in burrows dug in guano, or scrapes in the sand under boulders or bushes. They believe in equality and split incubation equally between both parents, during a total of 40 days. After the eggs hatch, one parent will always guard the chicks until about 30 days. This is important, to protect both chicks and eggs from predators like seagulls, which are not popular in the nesting site as you can see in the video. Upon that time, the chick will join a crèche with other chicks, so that mum and dad can go find food in the sea.

African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
Conservationists have place these artificial nests to support penguins on their nesting and breeding in the area.
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
Other penguins breed in the bushes right beside the beach and others, directly on the sand. Eggs or chicks, dad and mum are there to protect them until they are large enough to defend themselves from seagulls.
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
They will also feed them as they cannot swim with those feathers. In this close-up shots you can easily appreciate how tight, short and waterproof their feathers are. On the wings they look like some sort of neoprene but made by nature.
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

Chicks lose their down at 60 to 130 days - timing is highly impacted by quality and availability of food - and get some blue feathers. Then they will go to the sea and explore the area, to return after 12-22 months. At that time, they will lose the bluish feathers and get the back adult plumage.
African penguin colony in Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

Their average lifespan 10 to 27 years in the wild, up to 30 in captivity. A life that will be spent as a couple, isn't that a bit romantic?

Boulders Penguin Colony [WEB]
Tel: 021 786 2329
Email: tablemountain@sanparks.org
Entry Times:
· 7:00 – 19:30 (Dec – Jan)
· 8:00 – 18:30 (Feb – Mar / Oct – Nov)
· 8:00 – 17:00 (Apr – Sept)
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