Cape gannets breed on islands off the coast of Nambia and South Africa. They build their nests out of droppings, with a few bones and feathers mixed in.
Scientific name: Morus capensis
Sardine shoaling defence is no match for the numerous predators joining the feast.
This clip from Nature's Great Events was a real roller-coaster to get on film as the ‘annual’ sardine run turned out to be much less predictable than the crew had thought. After many weeks scouring the quiet seas around Africa’s wild coast, and slowly losing hope, the sardine run finally sprang to life. Dolphins, sharks and tens of thousands of gannets whipped themselves into a feeding frenzy unrivalled anywhere in the world. To be in the thick of it was an amazing – and at times frightening – experience.
Low fish stocks force a change in the habits of breeding cape gannets.
On Malgas Island in South Africa's West Coast National Park, there are thousands of Cape gannet chicks that are safe from human interference. But there is no protection from the large white pelicans that swallow the poor chicks whole.
A huge shoal of sardines is attacked on all sides.
A wonderful, action-packed sequence, this clip combined footage from above and below the water to illustrate the squeeze that's put on the sardine shoal. As sharks, dolphins, whales and birds attack from the deep, the surface and the air, a variety of hunting techniques is exposed.
Fledging is a dangerous pursuit in the seas off South Africa.
After months of being fattened with fish from their parents, gannet chicks have to take their first steps towards independence. But making their first flight is difficult, many are overwhelmed by the power of the ocean, and from there it's much harder to take off. On the sea they are vulnerable to fur seals who take advantage of young birds inability to fly and who make the most of this bumper harvest.
The Cape gannet can be found in a number of locations including: Africa. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.
The following habitats are found across the Cape gannet distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Population trend: Decreasing
Year assessed: 2008
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
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