Animals of South Africa's Coastline
The coasts of Africa are part of the routes of the sea mammals. They are rich with all kinds of fish and are playground for penguins and seals. The coasts are also nesting sites for birds and hunting ground for wild dogs.
Whales are large, intelligent, aquatic mammals. What is the difference between fish and whales? Whales breathe air through blowholes into lungs, unlike fish who breathe using gills. Whales have sleek, streamlined bodies that move easily through the water. They are the only mammals, that live their entire lives in the water, and the only mammals that have adapted to life in the open oceans. Whales are warm blooded. They have mammary glands with which they nourish their young.
Whales, Dolphins and Sharks
South Africa is one of the best places to get up close to the most magnificent creatures of the seas. From July through November, Africa's southern edge is awash with migrating whales. Southern rights come from Antarctic in preparation for mating and birthing. You can also watch humpbacks, also migrating from the Southern oceans. They come to snack on South Africa's fish buffet while en route to the tropics. Where is the best place to watch whales? The whale-watching capital of the world is the small town of Hermanus. On the coastal walkway you can enjoy sightings from whales breaching just yards away. If you are lucky, you can even see the whale caller calling the beautiful animals with his horn.
Few creatures strike more fear in humans than the great white shark. In reality, great white shark attacks on humans are rare. However, the size of the great white shark and its sudden attacks contribute to this fear. The great white shark can become as large as 6 m in length! That's pretty big.
Great white sharks are blue-gray, which helps them blend in with the bottom of the ocean when viewed from above. The belly is white. This makes it difficult to see the sharks from below. They have strong, torpedo-shaped bodies and powerful tails that help them swim. Great whites can reach speeds up to 24 km an hour. Great whites search for prey at the surface of the ocean while swimming below. Once they spot a target, they use a burst of speed to bump and bite their prey. They have several rows of teeth that can number into the thousands. As teeth fall out, they are rapidly replaced by those in the row behind them. That is why a single bite can be fatal. What is on the shark's menue? They like marine mammals, such as sea lions, seals and small whales.
Did you know? The white shark is at the top of the food chain and has few threats in the ocean. Only orcas and larger sharks can pose a risk.
Can Sea lions and Wild dogs become Friends?
A sea lion is an aquatic mammal generally found in shallow waters. They come pretty close to the coasts of South Africa and Namibia. This is also the territory of the wild dogs who are hunting nearly every animal that gets in their way. They seem to respect each other. But can the two different species become friends? Definitely not. If the young of a seal lion is too weak to survive, the wild dogs will eat it. This is why the sea lion mothers care very well for their young.
Penguins are aquatic birds, but they cannot fly. They are too heavy weighted, they have no wings and no feathers. But they are highly adapted for life in water. They are only found in the Southern Hemisphere, especially in the Antarctic and in South Africa. In Europe penguins were not known before Vasco di Gama stopped in South Africa on his way to India. Penguins are very curious birds. They roam the coastal shores and streets without any fear of humans, simply because humans don't prey on them. Penguins form pairs during the breeding season, but they don't stay together for a lifetime. They breed in big colonies, each pair laying two eggs in a clutch. The pairs share the incubation duties. If a penguin mother looses one egg, it tries to steel one from a penguin mother near by. This happens not very often, because penguins watch very carefully over their eggs.
Did you know? Diamonds are forever! Also female penguins think so. They become as present little stones from their admirer. It's a sign for permanent devotion. The couples stay together for a lifetime.