Winter seas in False Bay

It’s calmer on the False Bay side when the nor’westerly Atlantic swells push onto the coast; though the wave height may not be as high as along the western edge of the Cape Peninsula there is still power in the break.   We watch with great anxiety for the otters and penguins as they exit the surging waters.    Fortunately the Boulders’ penguin colony is sited in a sheltered sandy cove, with a defence of boulders breaking up the force of the water.  Still these sturdy little creatures risk being tumbled in the surf.   Once on land they head for shelter from the strong winds.   Interesting to see the Cape cormorants happily hunkered down amongst the penguins. (Note the little penguin with the missing foot.)

Close by the Cape clawless otters (Aonyx capensis) maintain secret holts on land where they can hole up out of the rough seas.  We’ve been fortunate to observe a pair which have returned to the area near our garden since the vegetation has regenerated after the devastating fires.  Unlike the penguins’ sandy beach landing, the otters negotiate a rocky shore and often suffer from  injuries.  Pyjama shark is the catch of the day. If you’d like to read more details about the otters Wilf Nussey’s enthralling stories are here.



35 thoughts on “Winter seas in False Bay

  1. It’s a rough life for them. I feel for the little guy with the bum foot. The otter has a curious expression, as if to say, ‘Who are you looking at?’ 😉

    1. Rough and perilous – the penguins are on the endangered list. Yes i think this was one of the younger otters. I kind of blundered into the scene and know that it was aware of my presence. Generally they take off, this one kept casting an ‘eye’ in my direction 🙂

      1. I was in SA for 12 years most of it in Cape Town, plus several visits since leaving in 1984. Two children born in Johannesburg and the youngest in Fishhoek. So many memories 🙂

    1. Beguiling they are! Yes it’s concerning especially as the penguin numbers decrease. Good news that there is that new colony starting at Tenakwa National Park – relocating them closer to the anchovie/prey shoals may help them recover.

      1. Good to know a new colony is being started. Hopefully the food sources will be sufficient. I have not been able to find anything about Tenakwa National Park. Please can you point me in the right direction. Thanks.

      2. Hi Carol, apologies for a bit of misinformation here. I recently read an article on events held on World Ocean Day and rehabilitated penguins being released at Lookout Beach in Plett. I misread that a new colony would be set up at the facility Tenikwa. It appears that there are plans to establish a site in the Plett vicinity.

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