Cape Gannet

© Roger de la Harpe
Cape Gannet.


Cape Gannet (Morus capensis)


84–94 cm




The adult Cape gannet is an unmistakable, large black and white seabird with a yellow head and hind neck. It has distinctive black lines on the bill and face and a long black line down the centre of the throat. This bird has long wings, completely webbed toes and a pointed bill. The nostrils are not visible and the tail feather not as stiff as in cormorants and pelicans.

The immature gannet is all-dark initially, heavily spotted and speckled all over its body, head and neck, becoming white in that sequence.

Cape Gannet Call

The call is a loud raucous ‘kara-kara-kara-kara’.

Cape Gannet Breeding

The Cape gannet only has one chick. The single egg is incubated by the birds’ feet. It is initially bluish-white but later becomes dirty and covered in guano.

Cape Gannet Habitat

Cape gannets breed on islands off the coast of South Africa and Namibia. The largest colony is found on Malgas Island in the Western Cape.

Cape Gannet Migration

From December to May young birds migrate during the winter months, up the east and west coasts.

Cape Gannet Status

The Cape Gannet is a common or locally abundant resident.

Where they are found

The breeding range of Cape gannet is restricted to Southern Africa. In South Africa, the Cape gannet is a common off-shore species, resident throughout the year on the west and southern coasts. Found in coastal waters throughout the year as far as 160 km offshore.