Spotting a King penguin on a whale watching trip in False Bay/Cape Town – this certainly came as a wonderful surprise!
This bird is far off its normal range as illustrated in the accompanying map, but is in good shape as confirmed by SANCCOB and will remain under their caring eyes for the duration of its visit.
This rare event is a real treat for birders – I wonder what our local African penguins make of it?

Interesting facts about king penguins

The king penguin is the second largest species of penguin at 70 to 100 centimeters (2.3 to 3.2 feet) tall and weighs 11 to 16 kilograms (24 to 35 pounds). In size it is second only to the emperor penguin.

There are an estimated 2 to 3.2 million breeding pairs.

Lifespan is 15 to 20 years in the wild, and up to 30 years in captivity.

King penguins eat small fish, mainly lantern fish and squid and rely less than most Southern Ocean predators on krill and other crustaceans.

Ice and water in Antarctica is primarily salty, making it impossible for most animals to drink. The king penguins stomach, however, has adapted to drinking salt water. Its powerful stomach can separate the salt completely, allowing the bird to drink without becoming dehydrated.

The body is a dark black and grey mix all down the back. They have dark yellow on their bill and the back of the neck. They also have this yellow color on the front as the bit of black there gives way to the rest being all white.

 

To keep warm, King penguins have four layers of feathering.The outer layer of feathers are oiled and waterproof, not unlike the feathering of a duck.

The king penguin is one of the most elegant of all penguin species as it’s long and slender body helps the king penguin to glide through the water with great ease.

The average cruising speed for a King Penguin while swimming ranges somewhere between 5 and 10 km per hour (3 to 5 miles per hour).

 

King penguins are excellent divers and have been known to dive as deep as 300 meters (980 ft)!

King Penguins live on the sub-antarctic islands at the northern reaches of Antarctica, as well as Tierra del Fuego, the Falkland Islands and other temperate islands of the region.

King Penguins form gigantic colonies when they come in to shore during the mating season. One colony at South Georgian Island is estimated to have over 200,000 birds.

 

King Penguins are “serially monogamous” – they mate with only one mate per season, working with their mate to hatch the egg and care for the chick. However, unlike some other species of penguin, they’re not so likely to return to the same mate the next year – about 70% will find a new mate the following season.

King penguins are one of the few birds that do not build nests, eggs are incubated under the belly on top of their feet.

It takes 54 days for the eggs to hatch, during which time males and females take shifts incubating them.

 

 

After hatching, parental duties continue to be equally shared by both male and female, with one staying on land to brood the chick while the other goes in search of food at sea.

When the chick reaches around six weeks old, it joins a group of chicks known as a creche, thus allowing both parents to go foraging at the same time, in order to bring back enough food for the voracious offspring.

 

The creche provides the woolly chicks with protection from predators, as well as the benefit of collective warmth.

The chick grows a warm brown fluffy down of feathers. They also grow a thick layer of blubber to keep them warm during the winter months ahead.

The chicks huddle in their creches during the winter months while the parents occasionally come onshore to feed them. In the spring the parents come back and start feeding the chicks again.

At this time, the chicks starts to grow their adult feathers and are ready to go off on their own. Raising a King penguin chick usually takes 10 to 13 months.

Once a young King Penguin does leave its colony it will not return until at least 3 years later when it’s able to mate.

At sea, the key predators of King penguins are the leopard seals and killer whales who wait beneath the surface near the shore for unsuspecting birds.

Some king penguin colonies were completed exterminated. This occurred as a result of hunting in the 19th and 20th Centuries. People hunted the king penguins for their skin, oil, blubber and eggs.

King penguins have legal protection from hunting and the collection of their eggs. According to the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, it is illegal to harm or interfere with any penguin or its eggs.

Today, the king penguin populations in the sub-Antarctic Oceans appear to be thriving and better still increasing in numbers with more than two million breeding pairs of king penguins found around the freezing waters.

Like almost all animals, king penguins ordinarily have round pupils in their eyes. However, this all changes when their pupils constrict. Of all king penguin facts, one of the most bizarre is that, when constricteda king penguin’s pupils are actually square in shape.

Source credit:

Join us at Seaforth Beach at 10am and then follow on to Simon’s Town School for a fun-filled festival, in celebration of African penguin awareness.

SANCCOB’s 17th Annual Penguin Festival in collaboration with the City of Cape Town, Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET) and South African National Parks (SANParks) kick-starts with a public release of rehabilitated African penguins for all to witness how they waddle back to where they belong. It’s an experience not to be missed as we count down to tip the boxes!
This year Kfm’s mascot, Rocket, will also tip a box.

From 10h30 the festival will take place at Simon’s Town School in Harrington Road, within walking distance from the beach release site and parking is available at the school’s hostel.

There will be educational exhibits with an environmental spin by exhibitors, food vendors, boerewors rolls made with love by the SANParks Honourary Rangers, and a designated craft beer and wine area.

Entry is FREE and children can access the Kids’ Zone at R50 per child. Regrettably, no dogs are allowed at this event.

This annual event is a platform to highlight the plight of the iconic African penguin species and educate the public on how to play their part in supporting SANCCOB’s conservation efforts and those of all collaborators and exhibitors.

Parking:
• Parking for the beach release is available at the Navy’s parking at the end of Martello Road.
• Attendees can walk up Whalers Way to the Main Road’s pedestrian crossing to reach the festival, following the festival signage from the beach release.
• There is a stop and drop option on Harrington Road at the venue’s entrance.
• Event parking is available at the school’s hostels at the top of Harrington Road.

Find out more at https://bit.ly/2ZqWCVu

Source Credit: SANNCOB

Book your accommodation now for the annual Penguin Festival in Simon’s Town on Saturday, 10 November, to celebrate African Penguin Awareness Day!

Get 10% discount on Bed & Breakfast: give reference – “Penguin Festival” to claim.

From kids and foodies to birders and conservationists, there’s something for everyone.

General admission is FREE and entry into the Kids’ Zone is R50.

This special day is dedicated to raising worldwide awareness about the plight of the endangered African penguin, the only penguin endemic to the African continent. All proceeds go to SANCCOB’s year-round African penguin conservation work.

More information: www.sanccob.co.za

More about the African Penguin:

African Penguin

Spheniscus demersus

African penguinWhen you think of penguins, you may picture them surrounded by snow and ice. However, there is one species of penguins that is acclimated to warmer climates. African penguins live in colonies on the coast and islands of southern Africa.

Also called jackass penguins, they make donkey-like braying sounds to communicate. They can dive under water for up to 2.5 minutes while trying to catch small fish such as anchovies and sardines. They may also eat squid and crustaceans.

The African penguin averages about 60 cm (2 ft.) tall and weighs up to 3.6 kg (8 lb.). Their short tails and flipper-like wings that help them navigate in the water, while their webbed feet help propel them.

To keep dry and insulated in cold water, African penguins are covered in dense, water-proof feathers. These feathers are white on the belly and black on the back, which aids in camouflage. Their white belly will blend with the light when predators look up at them from below, and their black backs meld with the darker seas when predators look down on them from above.

African penguins breed within their colonies; they do not travel to give birth. The penguins nest in burrows they dig out of their own excrement, called guano, or in areas under boulders or bushes. Recent removal of the guano for fertilizer has forced the penguins to change their habits and nest primarily under bushes and boulders. Their nests protect eggs and chicks from the sun and from predators like cats and seagulls. Eggs are laid in pairs and both parents help incubate them. Both parents also feed the newly-born chicks. After 2-4 years, the chicks will mature and lay their own eggs.

African penguins

Conservation Status

African penguins can live for an average of 10-15 years, however many do not reach their full life span, and populations have been steadily decreasing. The loss of nesting places due to guano removal has contributed to the population decline as well as a decrease of food due to overfishing and pollution. As such, African penguins are now considered endangered by IUCN’s Red List. This means there is a high risk they may become extinct.

What You Can Do to Help

If you would like to help the African penguin, you can volunteer, donate, or adopt a penguin through the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds.

African Penguin Distribution

African penguin distribution map

African penguins live in colonies on the coast and islands of southern Africa.

Source credit: animalfactguide.com

28 julie

Simons Town offers the best holiday accommodation in Cape Town, South Africa, including Self Catering, B&B’s, and Hotels, Camping and Backpackers. Simon’s Town has stunning views in the most beautiful environment of the Cape Peninsula. Nestled on False Bay within easy distance of Cape Town International Airport, our village is rich in history, character, atmosphere and warmth. Our neighbours are whales, penguins and seals with world heritage status bird life, fishing and the beauty of Table Mountain and Cape Point.

Just around the corner from the seaside village of Simon’s Town turn left off main road to Boulders Visitor Centre to visit the famous colony of Jackass Penguins, so called for their hilarious braying call. This is a truly special experience and Table Mountain National Park staff are knowledgeable and offer guided tours. After you have fallen in love with the penguins head to the secluded Boulders Beach and take a swim in the comparatively warm waters of the False Bay.

Boulders_Bay

Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town is ideal for kids as immense boulders shelter the cove from currents and large waves – but please always take care. Also, don’t touch or feed the penguins. They might look cute and cuddly but their beaks are as sharp as razors and if they feel threatened they have no qualms about nipping the odd finger or nose.
boulderscolony2
Entrance fees from 1 Nov 2014 – 31 Oct 2015
R60 for adults
R30 for children

Operating Hours: 7 days a week
Dec – Jan: 07h00 – 07h30
Feb – April: 08h00  – 18h30
May – Sept: 08h00 – 17h00
Oct – Nov:  08h00 – 18h30