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Pete Martin ¦ Transformational Journeys

South Africa: Stony Point Penguins

SOUTH AFRICA | Wednesday, 21 June 2017 | Views [562]

Pete Martin ¦ Stony Point Reserve ¦ www.petemartin.org

Pete Martin ¦ Stony Point Reserve ¦ www.petemartin.org

After L’Agulhas, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean at the southernmost point of the African continent, I take a detour towards Hermanus along the coast road. The drive is spectacular. The canyons of the coast are covered with the green of the trees and plants and the sun shines brightly in a cloudless blue sky as we pass the Klein River Lagoon.

On the Overberg coast, I stop in a town with the wonderful name of Betty's Bay. Here, on the public boardwalk is Stony Point Nature Reserve, which houses a massive colony of African Penguins.

Over a hundred black and white flightless birds stand on the jetty, a stone’s throw from the car park and the café. A yellow line has been painted across the concrete and a printed sign declares, “To limit disturbance to the moulting penguins, do not cross the yellow line; slipway access by boat club members and Cape Nature staff only.” It seems that the request does not work both ways as there are several penguins this side of the line.

In the ocean, a penguin’s feathers trap air close to its body, which provides insulation against the cold. This causes their feathers to deteriorate over time and so adult penguins shed their feathers annually. Before moulting, the bird will feed to get fat. Then it will fast for twenty days as it cannot forage as it waits for its new feathers to become waterproof. In the process of fasting, a penguin may lose around forty-seven percent of its body mass. Most penguins at Stony Point moult in the months of November and December and, further along the boardwalk, up a slight incline, those penguins able to forage again playfully swim in the bay, whilst the lazier ones watch from the rocks.

Tags: bettys bay, fantafrica, penguins, stony point reserve, transformational journeys

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