South Africa is famous for its terrestrial fauna, including the "Big Five" (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, and elephant). But the country is surrounded on three sides by oceans teeming with life, including whales, flying sharks, seals, sea otters, dolphins, tuna, and penguins and other marine birds. The annual sardine run is a mass migration so large that thousands of people crowd the beaches to scoop up the small silvery fish in buckets.
One of the best places to view breaching whales is at Hermanus, a few hours' drive from Cape Town. The town has its own whale crier, an official who keeps a lookout and blows a horn whenever whales come in to the bay, sometimes only yards away from the shore.
Large colonies of African penguins have reestablished themselves on the South African mainland over the last two decades or so. A good place to see them at close quarters is at Boulders, a beach in Simon's Town, near Cape Town. Up the west coast from Cape Town, a large colony of gannets can be seen at Lambert's Bay.
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Photograph courtesy South African Tourism