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8 places to see exotic marine animals on dry land

Three penguins on Boulders Beach, South Africa

Photo: darkroomillusions/Flickr

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Cape Town, South Africa

The southern city of Cape Town, South Africa, is a hub for people who want to explore the rugged coastline that characterizes this part of the continent. Boulders Beach (pictured) on False Bay (not far from Cape Town), is home to a large African penguin colony. The beach is a popular tourist attraction, but it is managed by South Africa's National Park Service, so you have to pay a fee to enter. The small remote-feeling De Hoop Nature Preserve boasts a large number of land-based animals, but the biggest draw during the winter migration season are the southern right whales that can be seen easily from the park's beaches and trails. During the day, you maybe be able to see as many as a dozen right whales at a time while standing on the beach.

Closer to Cape Town, Hout Bay is home to a large seal population. The seals congregate on an offshore island that is off limits to humans (you have to see the seals while on a boat). These mammals also draw a large number of fearsome great white sharks, who feed on the marine mammals — sometimes right in front of stunned seal watchers.