Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


Scores of little blue penguins have been washing up on Whangarei’s eastern beaches.

Date:  06 December 2010

Scores of little blue penguins have been washing up on Whangarei’s eastern beaches. The Department of Conservation (DOC) office in Whangarei has been swamped with calls by concerned locals over the past few days from Oceans Beach, Urqharts Bay, Langs Beach, Waipu, and Mangawhai.

Little blue penguin

The penguins are likely to have succumbed to the big easterlies we felt about a fortnight ago. Department of Conservation ranger Bryce Lummis says that this is a natural occurrence, which happens every year.

“When the strong easterlies hit the penguins and they are weak, a lot of natural attrition occurs; this is a sad but common phenomenon for little blue penguins.”

Mr Lummis says that some of the penguins are likely to be older birds coming in to die. Others are probably females who have been hit hard by the storm not long after having young, and because they aren’t in good condition they easily succumb. Others are often just looking for somewhere to rest.

Mr Lummis has sent several specimens to Massey University Veterinary Clinic in Auckland to be tested to confirm the cause of death. Results of this test are likely to be weeks away.

What to do if you find a penguin

  • You are strongly advised to leave penguins alone. They can carry nasty bacteria, and people should keep well away.
  • If you find a penguin on the beach alive, the best thing to do is to move it up into the long grass where it is able to rest away from predators and the public.
  • You should carry the penguin using an old towel, rag or some other barrier. Avoid any direct physical contact with it at all cost. After use throw away the old towel or rag, and wash your hands and arms thoroughly with soapy water to avoid any bacterial contamination.

If the penguins are alive and injured, or for more information ring

Whangarei Office
Phone:   +64 9 470 3300
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   2 South End Ave
Whangarei 0110
Postal Address:   PO Box 842
Whangarei 0140

or call Robert Webb at the Bird Recovery Centre on +64 9 438 1457.

More information about little blue penguins

  • The little blue penguin or kororā, is the world’s smallest penguin and is found in New Zealand and Australia.
  • The coast of Northland is one of their main breeding sites, along with southern Australia, Tasmania, and elsewhere in New Zealand.
  • The penguins breed by laying eggs on the shore in a nest in the sand, a natural cavity, a rock pile, or even under driftwood.
  • Both parents incubate the eggs taking shifts of 1-2 days each, until the eggs hatch after 33 to 43 days.
  • Little blue penguins are very noisy when they come ashore, making a range of noises from mewing similar to a cat, as well as loud screams, some trumpeting, and others make deep-toned growls.

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Little blue penguin is a common name for Little penguin

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