Penguins on Dassen Island, South Africa

Special Collections > Keystone Slides
tiff scanned file from original glass slide
On this little island, a mile long and a half mile wide, 40 miles north of Cape Town, is a great colony of penguins (pn´ gwn). There are more than 350,000 of these queer birds on this bit of land. They are carefully protected by the Cape government since their eggs form a valuable export. The guano (gwä´ n) is also a rich fertilizer. Penguins are the queerest birds one could imagine. They cannot fly, because their wings are very stubby. They stand erect, with their wings set precisely outward and downward. They walk with a waddling gait, very much out of keeping with their dignified bearing. They look and act like a crowd of little, old fashioned people; and they make far more noise. The kind of penguin you see brays like a donkey. You can imagine the noise on this island with 350,000 such voices in discord. The habits of the birds are in keeping with their queer appearance. They often form in rows and march like soldiers; but there is no silence in the ranks. They climb up icy hills on "all fours", using their stubby wings as a second pair of legs. Then they slide down on their breasts, like children coasting. They are wonderful swimmers, and can ride the highest waves with glee. They shoot down to the bottom, hunt about for fish, and shoot back to the surface like corks. Great crowds have swimming "bees", leaping about like so many dolphins. Some kinds lay their eggs in rocks, others nest in holes such as you see. The young are helpless and have to be fed a long time. The parent birds go down to the sea, catch a fish, and waddle back to the nest. There they tear their catch into bits and give it to the little ones. Keystone ID: 17014 Note: All titles, descriptions, and location coordinates are from the original Keystone Slide documentation as supplied by the Keystone View Company. No text has been edited or changed.
Copyright by the Keystone View Company. The original slides are housed in McConnell Library's Special Collections.