Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Dassen Island Lighthouse consists of 28 metre, circular, red and white striped cast iron tower. The powerful light has a range of 24 sea miles, on a clear night it can be seen from Signal Hill in Cape Town 55 kilometers away. The lighthouse is built on the highest side of the island, the South Western side, on a rocky outcrop.

Originally two lighthouse keepers, and later three, were employed on the island which was considered a lonely outpost. Supplies were received once a month by an uncomfortable 5 hour sea journey. The lighthouse is now unmanned and easily serviced by helicopter.

A large 27 000 litre stone reservoir was built to store oil for the original light. After the installation of electricity on the island, the reservoir was used as the base of the electric fog signal. This was destroyed in a gale in 1918 and has been replaced by a guyed aluminium mast which is insulated from the ground. The reservoir still stands.

Dassen Island is now a Nature Reserve and strictly controlled by the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board. A 15 minute trip from Yzerfontein will take you to this beautiful sandy island. Though a permit is required to visit the island, the waters surrounding it have become very popular for crayfishing. The island is a breeding site for White Pelicans (one of two in South Africa) and the African Penguin. It is also populated by numerous other sea birds, Kelp Gull, African Black Oyster Catcher as well as Crowned, Cape and Bank Cormorants. There are also numerous rabbits and tortoises on the island.

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