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Boulders Penguin Colony

Dressed to impress, the formerly known ‘jackass’ penguin, re-christened as the African penguin, is quite the little charm. Although various zoos around the world keep breeding penguins, Boulders Beach in Simons Town is one of the main breeding Colonies in South Africa besides Betty’s Bay.

Forming part of the Table Mountain National Park Marine protected area, Boulders Beach is home to approximately 2000 endangered African Penguins. Access to the beach is strictly controlled, requiring an entrance fee to enter the beach. Definitely well worth it, the beach is kept in pristine condition and SANpark ensures that both the beach and the facilities, which consists of toilets and outdoor beach showers, are spotless and always well maintained.

Fabulous for the little ones, Boulders Beach sports gentle, warm ocean swimming; 540 million year old granite boulders; small rock pools; little bays and a walkway that allows visitors to have a close up view of the penguins in their natural habitat. If you have ever seen an African penguin up close, you will notice that they have distinct pink patches above the eyes, interestingly enough this is not for beauty but for Thermoregulation; when the temperature rises, the penguins body sends an ample supply of blood to these glands to be cooled by the surrounding air, turning the glands a darker shade of pink.

The tuxedo appearance of the African penguin is an act of camouflage known as counter-shading, white for the predators beneath them in the ocean and black for predators overhead. The spotted black chests are unique to every penguin and are their unique ‘fingerprints’. On average the African Penguin grows to be 60cm – 70cm tall and full grown adults weigh 2.2kg – 3.5kg. The colony at Boulders have an extended breeding season which peaks around March – May.

It is said that the African penguin will allow one to come as close as a metre from them, it is also said that they have a nasty little nip, so the walkway at Boulders Beach would be close enough for some. For more information email tablemountain@sanparks.org / 021 786 2329

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