Within the oasis of the Cape Recife Nature Reserve there lies a safe haven for injured marine birds.  From the African penguin to cattle egrets, the South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre caters to the needs of all feathered creatures.  

I visited SAMREC while holidaying in Port Elizabeth.  I found their visitors’ tour interesting and thought-provoking; their educational centre contains all sorts of fascinating finds, from the baleen of a humpback whale to shark embryos and oceanic fossils. Heading outside to SAMREC's bird infirmary, we watched a couple of rescued cormorants and a cape gannet strut around their little pond.  The pen doesn’t have a cover over the top, so the birds are free to leave whenever they have fully recovered.  (Although our tour guide admitted that they sometimes hang around for the free food!)

The centre’s rescued penguin’s have access to a little pool, with an undercover “cave” attached.  I could happily have spent the rest of the day watching their antics; first one belly-flopped off the little ledge, then another played with a ball in the pool, while others snoozed in the sun.

By the time 14:30 came around, the penguins were already lined up eagerly for their food.

SAMREC does some amazing work with South Africa’s injured marine birdlife - rehabilitating those that have the chance of survival in the wild, and treating the others to a life of leisure.  I would highly recommend you pop by if you happen to be in the area!

Published by Ashleigh Pienaar