Aquatic Animals of Africa..

In previous blogs we’ve shared where and when to find the Big 5 as well as which animals to look out for on evening game drives. This week read on and discover the animals whose home are the waterways of Africa’s great continent.


An icon of Africa, the incredible hippopotamus is the third largest land mammal. The Hippo spends the majority of its day lounging in the water. With its name derived from the Greek word for “water horse”, this is quite fitting! Spending up to 16 hours a day in the water helps keep their skin cool.  You will often see hippos lurking in the shallows with their eyes just above the surface. Underwater, hippos are surprisingly graceful swimmers and can hold their breath for up to five minutes.

Hippos reside in sub-Saharan Africa. Although visually striking creatures, if you’re planning on seeing any, be sure to keep your distance! The hippo is the world’s deadliest large land mammal.  You certainly don’t want to get anywhere near those snapping jaws…

African Penguin

Africa is the last place you would expect to find penguins.  However, the nicknamed “jackass” penguin can be found in several colonies along the coast of southern Africa. Named as such because of its unique donkey-like braying call, African penguins are flightless.  Black-and-white in colour these birds have unique pink glands above their eyes to keep them cool.

African penguins can dive to depths of up to 80 metres.  These Enjoying a diet of fish, especially anchovy, mackerel and herring,. They may also venture up to 40km away from the colony in search of food, even further outside of the breeding season. One of the best places to get a glimpse of this endangered species is at Boulders Penguin Colony in South Africa, where a colony of 3000 reside.

South African Fur Seal

Found along the coast of Namibia and South Africa, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for this cute creature. The South African Fur Seal is the largest species of fur seal and usually resides on sandy or rocky beaches. They do not migrate far from their breeding grounds and instead hunt in the waters nearby. Their diet consists mainly of fish, but also includes birds such as the African penguin and cormorant.

Nile Crocodile

Countless teeth, a powerful tail and a watchful, waiting look in their eyes– the Nile crocodile is one of the most savage and least discerning predators in Africa. Reaching up to six meters in length, not only is it massive but it also has a temper! Considered to be more aggressive than other species of crocodile and alligator, this is not an animal you want to accidentally encounter on holiday.

The Nile Crocodile can be found in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Nile Basin and Madagascar.  Known to live off a diet of fish and reptiles, the Nile Crocodile is also known to take down much larger prey. Young hippo, lion, buffalo and antelope are not uncommon meals for this predator.

Southern Right Whale

One of the best places in the world for whale watching is South Africa.  One of the most impressive whales is the Southern Right Whale. A type of baleen whale, this incredible animal can reach up to 18 metres in length. The Southern Right Whale call the the waters of the Southern Hemisphere home. The best time to see them in Africa is during winter and spring as they nurse and feed.

These unique animals are mostly black with small white patches.  A distinguishing feature of thiss great mammal are the callosities (horny nubs) that grow behind their blowholes. Travelling usually in groups of two or three, these whales are incredibly social. If you do get the opportunity to sight them on a whale watching tour, you may find that they approach and even interact with your boat!

Africa is home to an incredible array of creatures: both on land and in the water. Whether they are freshwater, saltwater, reptilian, amphibious or mammalian, this incredible continent is home to some of the most fascinating aquatic animals in the world, and these are just a few…

References:  Thank you Budget SafarisThe Water PageNational GeographicLive ScienceSanbi.orgBiological DiversityLonely PlantDefendersPinnipedsShark SaversOceaniaKruger ParkSA VenuesWhale TrailWild about Whales

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