WATCH: Penguins released on Lookout Beach in Plett 

Penguins released from Lookout Beach on Sat 20 March
Published: March 20th, 2021
by Brendon Morris

WATCH: Penguins released on Lookout Beach in Plett

We were streaming LIVE from the Plett Penguin Release on Lookout Beach this morning where Tenikwa Wildlife Rehabilitation & Awareness Centre was returning four African penguins back into the wild after having been rehabilitated in their facility in Plett.

Watch the uplifting moments below as the penguins were released into the sea after many months on land recuperating from the injuries and diseases that forced them to become stranded last year.

You can be part of the rehab process by donating to the Penguin Food Fund either by buying a Motion for the Ocean ticket to online or by EFT to:

Bank: FNB 210514
Account Number: 53375052909
Reference: TEN002

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What species are they?
    African Penguin also called Jackass Penguin and black-footed Penguin.

  2. Why do they get stranded?
    Many reasons but most commonly on our shores:

    • Penguins get infected by Babezia (tick bite fever) or avian Malaria (mosquitoes)

    • Severe current and storms tiring them out – they seek nearest land to rest.

    • Moulting – Penguins moult annually – meaning they lose all their worn down feathers and replace them with new ones. Sometimes arrested moulting will occur, where they stop moulting halfway through. During this time they are not waterproof meaning they are not protected against the cold water and cannot hunt for fish.

  3. Why do we need to remove them from the beach for rehab? Isn’t it normal?
    They are Endangered – there is only 2% of the historical population left.

    Reasons:

    • In the past, harvesting of Penguin eggs and guano scraping reduced numbers dramatically.

    • They went from 150 000 pairs in 1956 to 26 000 pairs in 2008.

    • Overfishing of their main food source are currently a big problem: pilchards, anchovies and sardines.

    • Because there are so few left every bird really does count and we need to try and protect what we have.

  4. Where do they come from?
    We only have two mainland colonies, Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town and Betty’s Bay.

    Offshore colonies: St. Croix and Bird island are in Algoa bay to the East of PE. Dassen Island and Robben Island colonies are off the west coast.

  5. Why are we releasing them here?
    Because of fish stock shifting towards the east, Penguins are moving further and further away from their home colonies and are often spotted in our bay, which is very productive in terms of fish – using it as a hunting ground. It wouldn’t make sense to take them back to their home colonies if they have swum kilometers to get to the fish.

  6. Do they come back to the same beach after release?
    They may stick around the Plett waters for a while hunting and feeding but they won’t come on to land here unless they are in need of
    help.

    We chip every single Penguin that comes through rehab and scan every Penguin to keep track of whether they have been through rehab before. So far we’ve release over 100 penguins back into the wild and none of them have been found again, as far as we know.

  7. How long are they in rehab for?
    It depends on the severity of the issues; it can range from a month to several months. In the case of arrested moulting, the time in rehab can be quite extensive.