African Penguin – Spheniscus demersus
I have always found penguins adorable. Long before the likes of Surf’s Up and Marching Penguins, I thought penguins are just it. They may not be able to fly, but they are super cool. I never knew that they rock up every now and then in Swakopmund or even better, can be found close to Luderitz. Every time there was an oil spill in the Cape Town area and they asked for volunteers to go and help wash and clean these little ones, I wanted to go… But of course, I never had the opportunity.
The first time I laid eyes on them was at the Two Oceans aquarium in Cape Town and later at the Hout Bay Bird Sanctuary. It was only years later, on a field trip to Luderitz that I had the privilege of seeing them in their natural environment on Halifax Island and swimming around the boat. Here they are protected and nobody is allowed to come close to the island – not even to dive. Which I think is great.
Although Namibia does not have the wonderfully weird Puffins or the attitude rich Rockhopper Penguins, we have the African Penguins, and that is perfectly fine with me.
Like so many of the other penguins, African Penguins are listed as Vulnerable due to the decrease in food availability. They are further reduced by Great White Sharks (which I don’t think really plays a huge role here) and Cape Fur Seals (of which we have way too many!).
African Penguins are monogamous and breed in colonies on islands and isolated mainland locations.
They mostly eat fish like anchovies and pelagic Goby, but will also eat squid and octopus.
They make a donkey-like braying sound and this then accounts for the popular name of Jackass Penguins.
No matter what they are called, I love them!
As always, thanks to my Robert’s Bird Guide, 2007.
Photo: copyright emdt.photography