Family Gannets, Boobies (Sulidae)


Cape Gannet (Morus capensis)


French: Fou du Cap German: Kaptölpel Spanish: Alcatraz de El Cabo

Dysporus capensis

M. H. C. Lichtenstein

, 1823,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Closely related to and formerly considered conspecific with M. bassanus and M. serrator, differing from former in characters given under that species, and from latter in all-black tail (3), long gular line (2), and all-dark vs markedly paler inner vanes of primaries on both bassanus and serrator (2). Hybridization with M. serrator by wandering individuals recorded in Australasian region#R. Monotypic.


Breeds on coasts of South Africa (Bird I, in Lambert’s Bay; Malgas I, in Saldanha Bay; Bird I, in Algoa Bay) and Namibia (islands of Mercury, Ichaboe and Possession). Outside breeding season adults generally sedentary; young winter along African coasts, on W coast N to Gulf of Guinea (regular Nigeria) and on E coast N to Mozambique, exceptionally to Kenya and Tanzania.

Descriptive notes

85–90 cm; c. 2600 g. Adult has head and neck rich apricot-yellow to golden, fading to whitish over throat, lower neck and forehead, otherwise all white except black... read more


Commonest call "urrah-urrah", similar to that of M. bassanus but not so loud and harsh;... read more


Strictly marine; wanders over continental shelf, generally within c. 120 km of coastline. Breeds on... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly shoaling pelagic fish; c. 90% of diet may consist of pilchard (Sardinops ocellata), anchovies (Engraulis capensis... read more


Highly seasonal, breeding in Sept–Apr. Ground-nester, usually in large colonies; nest a mound of debris with central depression,... read more


Adults range little from colony after breeding, most staying in adjacent waters. Young migrate N to... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Very small breeding range, basically restricted to six islands, and considered to be at risk owing to over-exploitation of its food by commercial fisheries... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F., Garcia, E.F.J., Kirwan, G.M. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). Cape Gannet (Morus capensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 April 2020).