Dassen Island Penguins

Dassen Island lies off the Cape West Coast region near Yzerfontein

Western Cape Tourist Attractions Dassen Island Penguins

Shaped like a flattened whale, its fins viewable on either side, when seen from the air, Dassen Island lies off the Cape West Coast region near Yzerfontein.

Where? Yzerfontein, Cape West Coast, Western Cape

When? Open daily

How? Call +27 (0)22 451-2985

Overnight? See Yzerfontein accommodation, in Cape West Coast

Just a century ago Dassen Island was home to over a million African penguins and the largest African penguin colony in the world.

Egg harvesting, at a rate of roughly 600 000 a year, soon put paid to that claim, as did a population of domestic cats turned feral.

Whilst cat numbers have been reduced and there has been a part recovery on the part of the penguins, their numbers are a fraction of what they used to be.

Visit the museum on the island and an information board gives one an idea of the history: 'penguin eggs are rich' it says. 'When soap and water ran low at the islands, men even washed themselves in penguin eggs'.

Egg collection was such a commercial interest that walls were built around the island, forcing the birds to lay within certain areas and making egg collection easier.

Today former guano scrapers' houses (mainly Cape cormorant guano) are now used by researchers on the island. People are not allowed to visit unless with special permission and then are allowed to walk only on the road between the Dassen Island lighthouse and the buildings at Huisbaai.

Dassen island is now home to thousands of sea birds, penguins, rabbits and a rather speedy breed of tortoise.

Other Popular Attractions in Yzerfontein

Dassen Island Lighthouse

Whilst lighthouses by their very nature are destined for remote stations, Dassen Island, off Yzerfontein, can today claim to be the most isolated manned lighthouse on the South African seaboard. Set on a rather barren outcrop of rock and sand...

More info and contact details: Dassen Island Lighthouse

16 Mile Beach

16 Mile beach offers whale watching from September until November (calving season) and is very popular with sunbathers. The beach is ideal for kitesurfers, as it can be quite windy at certain times of the year and the long stretch of beach makes...

More info and contact details: 16 Mile Beach

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