Early in the week, the temperature rose sharply, the wind dropped and the beaches baked in the South Peninsula, Cape Town. A chance visit to see our charismatic African penguins at Boulders Beach on Tuesday 4 February, in the mid afternoon brought to the fore the consequences of climate change and distressing scenes of heat stressed penguins. The brooding season is in full swing, with many eggs and newly hatched chicks in various sizes crowded in the nursery area.
With beaks stretched wide, to thermoregulate their core temperature through panting and the pink glands above their eyes radiating pink- hot heat, these little creatures were having a hard time of it. Those that could moved to the waters edge but the nesting parents battled to keep the chicks cool and in the shelter of of their body shade. Eggs were abandoned, and sadly chicks succumbed to the heat lying lifelessly at their parent’s feet. Even more distressing were the attacks on abandoned baby chicks straying into territorial space. The relentless pecking with those sharp beaks drove the desperate chicks scurrying away.