Dassen Island

Yzerfontein Tourism

In Kearton’s footsteps

It’s almost ninety years since naturalist Cherry Kearton once set foot on this very spot. I look out over the calm waters of House Bay and catch the reflection of gulls darting above. Their shrieks and cries are amplified by the surrounding silence, broken only by the waves crashing against the island’s rocky coastline.
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Nature Reserve

Dassen Island lies in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 55km north west of Cape Town and 9km off Yzerfontein. It is South Africa’s second largest Island, after Robben Island in Table bay. The Island was proclaimed a nature reserve in 1987 and Is managed by Cape Nature Conservation.
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The Cape’s west coast has been a busy shipping lane for several centuries and the rough seas have claimed countless ships and lives. Dassen Island’s lighthouse, reputedly the most isolated manned lighthouse on the South African coast, was built in 1893 and stands on the southern and highest point of the island.
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Ecology and History

The ecology of small island is often dynamic. Natural fluctuations of plant and animal populations, in addition to a long history of human disturbance, have so altered Dassen Island that there is uncertainty about its original species. The island was named by Dutchman Van Spilbergen in 1601, after dassies.
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Dassen Island’s most significant animals are the seabirds, particularly the large populations of African penguin, white pelican, African black oystercatcher, three species of cormorant, and kelp gull. In addition Egyptian geese, sacred ibis, Cape wagtail, Hartlaub’s gull and swift tern breed on the island in smaller numbers.
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