The African penguin is a species of penguin, confined to southern African waters. It is also widely known as the “jackass” penguin for its donkey-like bray, although several related species of South American penguins produce the same sound.
There are three known mainland breeding colonies in southern Africa, one in Namibia and two in South Africa – both of which are located in the Western Cape. The one is of course found at the famous Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town (or Simonstown as some like to call it), while the second is the lesser known Stony Point colony in Betty’s Bay.
Betty’s Bay (named after Betty Youlden, daughter of the first developer of the area), if you aren’t familiar with it, is a small holiday town situated on the Overberg coast, located 96 km from Cape Town and nestled beneath the rugged Kogelberg Mountains. It can be reached via the scenic R44 (Clarence Drive) ocean drive between Pringle Bay and Kleinmond and is one of the longest villages in South Africa, measuring in at over 13 km. (Seriously, drive through it and see for yourself!)
Betty’s Bay played host to a large whaling operation during the early 1900s, with a whaling station being built in 1915 and which in its heyday was said to be slaughtering around 300 whales per year for their oil. The whaling station closed in 1930, and some years later a breeding pair of penguins (possibly from nearby Dyer Island) arrived and set up shop in the long since abandoned whaling station site.
And thus the Stony Point penguin colony was born!
The colony grew, and was initially unfenced and unmanaged, allowing visitors to view the penguins in close proximity. However, this changed in the late 1980s due to an incident where a leopard attacked the nests and killed over 60 of the penguins, and combined with other factors like dog attacks and frequent egg thefts, the area was declared a protected zone and moves were made to ensure its viability.
Today it is a particularly well managed site controlled by CapeNature and is without a doubt one of their cutest attractions!
(And at only R10 entrance fee to see threatened penguins, endangered Whitebreasted and Cape Cormorants and the vulnerable Bank Cormorant, probably their cheapest as well!)
We probably make the trip through to the Stony Point penguin colony at least once a year, and in fact, this little expedition undertaken on the 3rd of May 2015 was Emily’s second time here – though this time she was actually old enough to take in and enjoy all the sights and sounds!
No wind, a perfect sunny Autumns day, we were in for a real treat in terms of watching penguins cuddle, swim, eat and frolic around. In fact, we were so lucky on the day that Chantelle and I even spotted two large (probably whales) racing away from the area just as we arrived!
Needless to say, cellphone camera in hand, lots of pictures were the order of the day!