Sep 21, 2011

Feeling Nostalgic

Feeling Nostalgic by Megan Lorenz
Feeling Nostalgic, a photo by Megan Lorenz on Flickr.

Endangered African Penguin
Boulders Beach, South Africa

The main African penguin colony near Simon's Town is at Foxy Beach. The beach there is reserved for penguins – humans are restricted to the boardwalks to keep them under control!

Foxy Beach is flanked by two ‘human’ beaches – Seaforth and Boulders.

My favorite was Boulders Beach where you can walk on the beach and swim with the penguins. Boulders is beautiful and the tiny rocky bay carpeted in white sand is partially enclosed by granite boulders that are 540 million years old. It's a spot you'll want to spend lots of time on any visit to the Cape.

The African Penguin colonizes offshore islands and nests on the mainland only at two places in South Africa. (Betty's Bay & Boulders Beach ). The Boulders Beach area was established as a breeding colony of African Penguins in 1985, with two pairs nesting. By 1992, 158 pairs were breeding here, and the numbers have been increasing steadily since then, at a rate of almost 17% per year. The penguins in this area are unusually tame and are exposed to more threats because of their close proximity to humans. Even though they allow you to approach within feet, they should be given lots of space and respect. One evening I was very upset to see two children running after a few penguins and chasing them into the water. What was worse? The parents were watching and didn't say anything!

In September 2010, the African Penguin was listed as endangered under the U.S.A Endangered Species Act. African penguin populations, which breed in Namibia and South Africa, have declined by 95 percent since preindustrial times.

Roughly 4 million penguins existed at the beginning of the last century. The total population fell to 200 000 in the year 2000; ten years later, in 2010, the number was estimated to be only at 55000. If this decline is not halted, the African Penguin is expected to be extinct within 15 years.

If you're planning on visiting the area, I highly recommend staying at the Boulders Beach Lodge where you'll have penguins right outside your room providing comic relief :-) I was thrilled to open my door each morning and to be greeted by curious penguins and their babies.

One evening after dark I was sitting on the ground around the patio area speaking with my husband on skype, when one of the adults decided to come over and investigate. I moved out of the way to give him some space but made the mistake of leaving the computer on the ground. He walked right over, hopped onto the keyboard and began pecking at the image on the screen. My husband was laughing in the background while I was trying to figure out how to get him away without getting bitten and before he cracked the screen or crapped all over the keyboard. That would have been a real mess to clean up!

Be prepared before booking your stay that you might not get much sleep. The penguins are loud and will wake you up hours before sunrise. Plus you'll hear them running up and down the courtyard at night, chasing after the parents so they will regurgitate fish for them. Still...who needs sleep anyway? It's an experience you don't want to miss.

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