Readers’ wildlife photos and videos

November 24, 2020 • 8:00 am

We have two contributors today. First, reader “sherfolder” sent us some photos and videos of penguins, and I can’t resist posting penguins. Sherfolder’s captions are indented:

I send you some pictures I took in March of African Penguins at Seaforth Beach, near Simons Town on the Cape Peninsula.

African penguins, also known as the Cape penguin or South African penguin, live on the west coast of Africa, on the islands of Angola and Namibia to the South African east coast. They are pursuit divers and forage in the open sea, where they pursue fish such as sardines and anchovies.

In 1910, the population of African penguins was estimated at 1.5 million. In 2010, the total African penguin population was at 55, 000. At this rate of decline, the African penguin is expected to be extinct in the wild by 2026. The total breeding population across both South Africa and Namibia fell to a historic low of about 20.850 pairs in 2019.

By the way, the German name for that species (Spheniscus demersus) is “Brillen-Pinguine” (that would mean in English: “Eyeglass penguins”), which is probably due to their facial drawings, although I don’t think that those markings actually resemble glasses.

The first video shows three penguins that have just landed on the beach from the sea and are now setting out to climb a rock, you could have touched them, they came so close.

The second video shows a group of four penguins diving and swimming almost in formation gracefully and swiftly in the sea.

Our second contributor is Tim Anderson from Australia, with one of his lovely astronomy photos:

This is the Tarantula Nebula (NGC2070), an enormous star-forming region inside the Large Magellanic Cloud, the nearest galaxy to the Milky Way. It contains some of the largest stars ever measured from Earth.


9 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos and videos

  1. The proper name of the beach is Boulders Beach. We visited South Africa on a birding trip in 2000 and it included a visit to see the penguins there, just down a few blocks from our hotel. You can see the penguins coming in from the sea and around their nest holes among the boulders. A sign advises you to “Check underneath your car before driving away”.
    It must be the easiest place in the world to see penguins, along with the beach near Kangaroo Island where the Little Blue Penguin nests in burrows near the shore. People gather in droves there at night to watch them coming out of the water.

    1. Hi Lorna, I have to correct you here: This is the Seaforth Beach, which is very close to the more famous Boulders Beach. In contrast to the latter, you don’t have to pay any entrance fee at Seaforth Beach and it is not so crowded with visitors. But apart from that: it is a really lovely experience to see and observe the graceful penguins from such a close range.

  2. Lovely photos.

    Sad to hear about the African penguins serious decline.

    Is the penguins’ decline due to habitat loss, or food insecurity, or climate change, or? Usually it’s a combination of factors, I guess I’m searching for an easy explanation.

    1. From wiki I learned that the danger of extinction derives from commercial fisheries of sardines and anchovy, the two main prey species of the penguins, that have forced these penguins to search for prey farther offshore, as well as having to switch to eating less nutritious prey.

      1. Aha, thanks! And thanks for doing the “leg work” of looking it up on wiki. Sheesh, sometimes I’m just lazy. 😉

  3. The first (and almost only) time I saw penguins in the wild, a flock was sitting in the sea, looking like ducks. I was shocked by the BFO*, “Penguins are just birds, like ducks!”

    *BFO = Brilliant Flash of the Obvious.

    1. I can confirm a similar “BFO” experience not while watching the penguins, but afterwards reading some stuff about that species. I think it feels difficult to us to consider those animals as birds because the walk like people on two legs and first of all: they can’t fly!

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