|Hout Bay and harbor|
Hout Bay is on the western side of the Cape Peninsula, not to far from Cape Town. The small harbor is a working harbor with lots of fishing boats, small tourist attractions and a small stretch of beach. When I visited, it wasn’t the best beach day for tanning but it was pretty busy anyway. After taking a closer look, I was amazed to see people fishing from the beach. Not with a fishing rod but just by wading into the water and scooping up fish. Sardines!
A school of sardines had come into the harbor and the fishing frenzy was on. People were just throwing nets into the water and pulling up fish. But it wasn’t just people doing some fishing. There was a huge flock of seabirds that were hunting as well as a big group of Cape fur seals. Right off the beach! It was pretty neat to watch the seals hunt for their food, with the younger pups playing with the fish before they ate it. It was quite the feeding frenzy just inside that little harbor with fish scales flying everywhere!
|Toss the net overboard, pull up some fish|
|Huge flock of sea gulls and Cape fur seals|
|Seals with full bellies|
While it was a great thing to watch and see the Cape fur seals up close (not to be confused with the Northern fur seals we have at the Aquarium!), it was a poignant reminder that sardines, and other fish, is a huge commodity in South Africa. Lots of animals, including people and the African penguin, rely on them for food. With overfishing being a problem in this country (and many others) penguins are having a harder time finding food and therefore abandoning their chicks before they are ready.
Fortunately SANCCOB is there to help those chicks get back on their feet and there are sustainable seafood programs in South Africa. Is it enough to ensure the sardines are there for the future and to stop the decline of the African penguin population? I don’t know. I hope so…it was a pretty cool thing to watch birds, people and seals all share in the same bounty and let’s keep our fingers crossed that it can continue for many generations to come.
|Fishing from the beach. Will it continue?|