Boulders Beach is an sheltered beach on the Cape Peninsula which is home to a large colony of African Penguins. It is surrounded by massive granite boulders which gives it the name Boulders Beach.
The Boulders Beach penguins started from one pair which appeared in 1983 then gradually increasing. Soon numbers soared due to the area having plentiful food as it was closed to commercial fishing. However, competition for space and and decreasing fish stocks have meant a decline in numbers over the past couple of decades. Now tourism and peoples fascination for penguins are helping their survival.
Boulders beach became protected in 1998 when Table Mountain National park was put in place.
Wooden walkways guide visitors through the colony meaning you can be up close to the penguins without disturbing them.
As soon as you walk down on to the first walkway the smell and noise of the penguins hits you. On this sunny and windy day many penguin chicks, with the scruffy remains of their fluffy feathers, were scattered in between sand dunes and artificial nests.
August is the end of the breeding season and by September or October the beach will have few remaining penguins as many go out to sea to feed.
From the walkway the sight and sounds of the crashing waves is mesmerising. Some of the waves were so strong even a few penguins were caught out as the waves broke, causing a couple of penguins to somersault in the foaming white water.
After spending a lot of time bathing and grooming in the water, one by one the penguins exited the sea by surfing up on to the beach, they seemed to quickly change from an agile swimming, fishing machine to a black and white torpedo shape lying on its stomach as the wave receded. They then had a little shake and clumsily waddle off up the beach to groom some more.
African Penguins average 60cm in height
They weigh in at 2.4kgs to 3.6kgs
They can dive down to 130m and can hold their breath for 2.5 minutes
Their life span averages at 10 years
African penguins are now considered endangered by IUCN’s Red List. This means there is a high risk they may become extinct.