10 Fun facts about African penguins

10 Fun facts about African penguins
10 Fun facts about African penguins

For as long as I can remember, I believed that penguins are always surrounded by ice and the cold, dark ocean. Turns out, there are a species of penguins that are acclimated to warmer climate, African penguins.

The African penguin is the only penguin species that breeds in Africa and can be found nowhere else. Addo Elephant National Park is home to the largest ground of African penguins in South Africa and is the most ecologically diverse park in the country. A trip to the the national park is a popular safari holiday choice as it is well known for being the home of a diverse set of wildlife and birdlife.

Here are some fun facts about African penguins.

  1. What is the lifespan of African penguins?

On average, African penguins can live up to 10 – 15 years.

  1. Conservation of African penguins

Statistics have shown that many don’t reach their full life span. The populations of African penguins are steadily decreasing. There are a list of reasons why the population of penguins are decreasing, these include:

  • Loss of nesting places
  • Guano removal
  • Decrease of food, which is caused by overfishing and pollution. 
  1. What do African penguins eat?

African penguins eat mainly fish such as pilchards, sardines and mackerel as well as squid and shellfish.

African penguins are known for travelling a little distance to find food. Their trips can range from 30 – 110 kilometres, depending on where they are located. If they are on the west coast the trip usually ranges up to 70 kilometres. If they’re on the south coast the trip is usually longer.

  1. What is the weight and size of African penguins?

African penguins are approximately 60 centimetres tall. Male penguins tend to be bigger than female penguins. African penguins weigh between 2.4 and 3.6 kilos.

  1. How long can penguins stay underwater?

Penguins are able to hold their breath for an average of 2.5 minutes.

  1. How fast can African penguins swim?

While the average swimming speed for penguins is seven kilometres per hour, when hunting African penguins can swim up to 20 kilometres per hour.

  1. The appearance of African penguins

African penguins have black and white beaks, with some white spots on the tip. A black stripe runs from the base of their beaks and continues over to their forehead. Above each eye, penguins have a white stripe that rounds the head and travels down the side of the body. 

  1. Where do African penguins live?

There are approximately 29 colonies of African penguins in South Africa. The most populated locations where you’ll find these penguins are on Saint Croix Island, Dassen Island, Robben Island and Boulders Beach.

  1. How do African penguins survive outside conservation areas?

African penguins feathers that keep them dry and insulated in cold water. The black and white feathers on the belly and back of the penguin aid their camouflage. The white of the belly blends with the light, this protects the African penguins from predators looking from below. For predators looking from above, the black of the backs along with dark seas makes it harder to spot them.

  1. African penguin nesting

African penguins have an interesting nesting process. The African penguin nest is built far apart from other nests. Some nests are built under bushes or sandy beaches. What’s interesting about the nesting period of African penguins is that both parents take 1 to 3 day shifts.

Incubation takes between 38 to 41 days for the eggs of African penguins to hatch.  Thereafter, the chicks are kept warm and protected for another 40 days after being hatched. Once the chicks reach 70 – 100 days old they get their adult feathers. From here, the African penguins go to the sea on their own.