Wednesday, January 5, 2011

African Penguins at Boulders Beach

In my remaining days of the park, I was lucky enough to hook up with a group of incoming conservation students and sit in on their orientation and get the full tour of the park as well as gaining helpful history and background of the park. On the second day of the orientation, we visited all the major areas of the park: the northern section where Table Mountain is; the central section, where the Silvermine Dam and Silvermine River Valleys are (where I have been residing in the park), and the southern portion of the park, where Boulders Beach is along with the very famous Cape Point.

I have pictures of the penguins at Boulders Beach and was delighted to actually be seeing the birds that I had taught a lesson on with my sixth graders last year--and was wishing more that my sixth graders were there to see the penguins as well!

Here’s a bit on the penguins from Mountains in the Sea: Table Mountain to Cape Point: An Interpretive Guide to the Table Mountain National Park, 2004:

“Penguins are among the creatures most loved by people, and with good reason, for they are perhaps the most human of all birds. Slow, comical, and clumsy on land, they are incredibly swift and graceful in the water. Brave, loyal to their partners, and good socializers, they are also feisty individuals given to odd eccentricities. Penguins are a flagship species for conservation, and nowhere else on Earth is a member of this remarkable as accessible to people as Boulders.

The African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is one of the 17 penguin species, all of which occur in the southern hemisphere. It is Africa’s only penguin, with a breeding range from Namibia to Port Elizabeth. There are 27 breeding colonies, 24 on offshore islands where a protection from predators is greatest. Mainland breeding colonies are rare because the birds are much more vulnerable here. . . . They are accustomed to human presence and this is the only place in the world where you can get this close to wild penguins. (138-39)


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