Dyer Island Penguins

Dyer Island Penguin Colony lies roughly 8.5km off the coast of Gansbaai, about two hours' from Cape Town; the most southern offshore island frequented by penguins

Western Cape Tourist Attractions Dyer Island Penguins

Dyer Island lies roughly 8.5km off the coast of Gansbaai, about two hours' from Cape Town; the most southern offshore island frequented by penguins. It is also considered by Birdlife South Africa as one of the 101 Important Bird Areas in the country.

Where? Gansbaai, Cape Overberg Region, Western Cape

Overnight? See Gansbaai accommodation, in Cape Overberg

Geyser island lies just 150m southwest of Dyer Island, with Shark Alley inbetween. Difficult to land on the island by boat, it isn't somewhere people visit, but a whale watching or shark cage diving trip will take you right past the island.

Dyer Island used to be the most important breeding site for African penguins in the world. But now they are struggling to breed successfully. The main reason for this is the historic removal of guano between 1840 and the mid-1900s.

Penguins on the island in 1978 numbered 70 000 with about 27 000 breeding pairs. By 2011 that number was down to 970 pairs – a staggering drop in the population.

Dyer island is now protected but the former stripping of guano to use as fertilizer means that penguins no longer have burrows in which to breed. They now nest out in the heat of the sun on the rocky island surface, at the mercy of both prey and the elements.

The number of sea birds preyed on by Cape fur seals is considered unsustainable on the island. And the great white shark, in the alley just off the island, does not help measures.

Dyer Island is also the colony with the highest incidence of end of season orphan chicks compared with other colonies. They tend also to be in poorer condition.

The same study shows that penguins from Dyer Island leave on longer foraging trips and have to travel further to find food than other colonies. CapeNature and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust have partnered in an attempt to introduce artifical nests onto the island.

These fibreglass nests look exactly like natural guano burrows and has been successfully adopted enough to extend the project to Stony Point, bird Island, Boulders Beach and Robben Island.

Other Popular Attractions near Dyer Island

Dyer Island Nature Reserve

Most people have heard of Dyer Island. Shark Alley, the strip of sea between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock, off the coast of Gansbaai and Pearly Beach in the Overberg, is famous for shark cage diving, and one of the biggest tourist attractions...

More info and contact details: Dyer Island Nature Reserve

Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary

The African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary was initially set up for the African penguins of Dyer Island, which are endangered. This island is classified as an Important Bird Area. Sadly, the last few decades have seen a major decline in the...

More info and contact details: African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary

Grootbos Nature Reserve

The Grootbos Nature Reserve occupies 1 750 hectares and is the proud home of more than 740 different species of plants. This ranges from hundreds of hardy fynbos shrubs to the world’s largest milkwood forests. This area is, naturally, the chosen...

More info and contact details: Grootbos Nature Reserve

Whale Watching in Walker Bay

The waters between Hermanus and Pearly Beach attract hundreds of whales annually to the shallow waters of this coastline, also known as the whale coast. Daily sightings of these giant beasts of the sea, certainly in August and September, are...

More info and contact details: Whale Watching in Walker Bay

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