Members of the public flocked to the third Penguin Palooza at the Stony Point Reserve in Betty’s Bay on Saturday, 27 October 2018. The highlight of the event, which was co-hosted by the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and CapeNature, was the release of 13 rehabilitated African penguins back into their natural habitat.
The first batch of penguins out of the boxes took a look around to orient themselves, then made a beeline for the ocean and was soon swimming into the open sea. One more went splashing out after them and then it was the turn of the last four penguins to emerge from the boxes. They did a few practice stretches for their adoring public, tested the icy waters… and promptly waddled back onto the warm beach, easily outflanking the humans who were trying to encourage them into the sea.
Our Cape Town is Awesome Brand Ambassador Garth Malpas aka ‘The Endangered Malpas’ was there to document this beautiful and life-changing occasion.
The iconic and endangered African penguin is the only penguin species to naturally occur on the African continent. It was once one of South Africa’s most abundant seabirds, but has suffered a massive decline in numbers with only 2% of the historic population left in the wild today.
Dr Razeena Omar, Chief Executive Officer of CapeNature commented that, “This penguin colony is of national, as well as international, conservation significance for the African penguin species…”
The African penguin colony at Stony Point is one of the two mainland breeding colonies in South Africa (the other one being Boulders in Simon’s Town). Stony Point is the only colony that has shown an increase in the number of African penguins in the last decade.
Katta Ludynia, SANCCOB’s Research Manager, saids, “Together, CapeNature and SANCCOB rangers rescue abandoned and weak chicks for rehabilitation at SANCCOB. Once healthy enough for release, we mark each penguin with a transponder, enabling SANCCOB to evaluate the survival and breeding locations of the penguins if they cross the strategically placed transponder readers at the colonies.”
After the release, festivities continued with a community market, including the Mooi Uitsig arts and crafts project by children from Betty’s Bay, a penguin movie screening and fun-filled educational activities.
About Stony Point Nature Reserve
Stony Point Nature Reserve is home to one of the largest successful breeding colonies of African Penguin in the world.
Located in the quaint coastal town of Betty’s Bay in the Overberg, the Stony Point Nature Reserve is home to a unique colony of African Penguins. Stony Point offers the public the chance to see these wonderful flightless birds up close, via the boardwalk through the colony, which allows the public to observe the penguins go about their daily activities in their natural habitat, without disturbing or disrupting them.
Also present in the colony are three species of cormorant; the Crowned cormorant, Cape cormorant and Bank cormorant, all of which breed on the outer rocks. There are also Hartlaub’s Gulls and Kelp Gulls which forage in the colony, while the Rock Hyrax, more commonly known as the Dassie, can be seen on the surrounding rocks.
The colony lies on the site of the old Waaygat Whaling Station, which was used to harvest and process whale meat in the early to mid 1900s. Remnants of the machinery and infrastructure for this long-defunct industry can still be found at the site.
There is also a community restaurant adjacent to Stony Point, which sells refreshments and food during the day.
How to get there
From Cape Town, take the N2 north. Just before Sir Lowry’s Pass, turn right on to Sir Lowry’s Pass Road. At the T-junction in Gordon’s Bay, turn left on to the R44 (Clarence Drive), following the road along the coast, past Rooi Els and Pringle Bay. Turn right at the first sign for Betty’s Bay, on to Porter Road. Follow Porter Road for 2.5km, then turn right on to Crassula Avenue. Turn right on to Disa Road at the four way stop 600m down Crassula Avenue, and then follow the signs to Stony Point, which will be on your left. The trip from Cape Town should take between 70-90 minutes, depending on the traffic in Somerset West.
Stony Point Nature Reserve contact information
Operating hours: 08:00 – 16:30 (last permits issued at 16:00, gates close at 16:30 sharp)
Reserve office phone number: +27 (0) 28 272 9829
Emergency number: +27 (0)87 288 0499 (Answering machine will refer to the officer on duty)
Cellphone reception: Yes
GPS: 34 37 14.21 S, 18 89 32.65 E