Introduction

Coromandel holiday makers, beach goers, and tourism operators have recently been reporting numbers of dead little blue penguins washing ashore along the east coast.

Date:  26 January 2010

Coromandel holiday makers, beach goers, and tourism operators have recently been reporting numbers of dead little blue penguins washing ashore along the east coast. DOC Biodiversity Programme Manager, Paul Gasson says that “high juvenile mortality is usual for this time of year as young penguins are starting to leave their nests and become independent”. Mr Gasson says if you see a sick or dead penguin it is best to leave it on the beach.

Exhausted or sick penguins are difficult to rehabilitate. If it has cuts or is obviously injured call your local DOC office or Veterinary surgery.

Little blue penguin.
Little blue penguin

“Adult little blue penguins also moult their feathers between late December and March, which takes 10-18 days. This makes them look quite bedraggled. They don’t eat during moulting as their feathers become waterlogged if they get wet, so they can’t go to sea. However they do lay down fat reserves to tide them over,” explained Mr Gasson. “If you see a moulting penguin just leave it be, and don’t put it back into the water”. If the penguin is in danger from dogs or other predators call your local DOC office.

The blue or little penguin (Eudyptula minor) or Korora can be found in many places around New Zealand and Southern Australia, and is the world's smallest penguin. They are a protected native species widespread throughout New Zealand. Islands off the eastern coast of Northland and in the Hauraki Gulf are their main breeding sites in the North Island.

Studies in the South Island showed that only around 30% of young penguins survive to adulthood. While some are seen dead on beaches, the majority just disappear. Of the birds that are found dead, most are less than one year old. In years where there is little food available, almost 100% of chicks may not survive, whereas in other years when more food is available, survival rates are much higher.

Contact

Rebekah Duffin
Ranger Community Relations
Email: rduffinl@doc.govt.nz Phone: +64 7 867 9075
Mobile: + 64 27 217 8876

See also:

Little blue penguin is a common name for Little penguin

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