Stony Point Penguin & Seabird Colony in Betty's Bay, Western Cape
Ideal visiting times to this protected Colony are between the months of April to June, early morning or evening.
After the closure of the Waaygat Whaling Station at Stony Point in 1930 the penguins started to breed at the abandoned site, for no apparent reason. The African (also known as Jackass) Penguins have only two shore-based breeding colonies in South Africa, the other being Boulders Beach close to Simonstown. African Penguins grow to approximately 70cm tall and can weigh up to 3kg.
In 1956 when the first full census was conducted on the African Penguin, there were approximately 150 000 breeding pairs counted, but by 2009 this had dwindled to only 26 000 breeding pairs left in the world. This is indicative of a loss of more than 80% of breeding pairs in just over 50 years.
In May 2010 African penguins were declared an endangered species.
The global decline is suspected to be as a result of:
- irresponsible tourism activities.
- habitat destruction by encroaching urbanisation, introducing domestic pets whilst other wild animals also escaping this threat move into the area of the colony.
- impacts of mans lack of care of the Oceans, with the effects of oil spills and other marine pollution resulting in dwindling fish stocks and the fish movements being disrupted.
- the threat of the over fishing of the Ocean waters.
Others sharing the breeding site with the Penguins, are Bank, White-breasted and Cape Cormorants. Hartlaub's and Kelp Gulls also forage in the colony.
Although this site is fenced to prevent very close contact with the Penguins, walkways, being wooden boardwalks, have been provided to allow very good vantage points for viewing. The boardwalks are also signposted with very good information boards along the way, that provide excellent informative information and it is thus of interest viewing for all ages.
A nearby restaurant, run by a community Trust, is on the site of the old whaling station, providing direct access to refreshments for visitors. There is also an information section where you can read all about the history of the Waaygat Whaling Station that once operated from here.
There is no charge to enter the Reserve but there is a nominal fee to enter the breeding colony area. At time of this article being published adults and children paid R10 each. This may be subject to change. Last permits will be issued at 16h30, gates close strictly at 17h00.
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