Species spotlight: the Cape gannet

Species spotlight: the Cape gannet

Plummeting into the ocean from heights of up to 30 metres to seize fish with their razor-sharp beaks, gannets have one of the most spectacular prey-capture behaviours of all marine predators.

Endemic to South Africa and Namibia, these large pelagic seabirds are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red Data List. There are only six breeding colonies – three in each country.

Cape gannets normally lay one egg a year, which takes about 44 days to hatch. Chicks leave the nest 95-100 days after hatching. During this time, they are vulnerable to Cape Fur seals and Great White pelicans. Kelp gulls often eat gannet eggs.

Other threats include dwindling food supplies due to overfishing of sardine and anchovy, their natural prey . . . oil pollution . . . and entanglement in long-line fishing nets.

SANCCOB rehabilitates sick and injured gannets and has successfully reared abandoned chicks for release back into the wild.