Famished penguins rescued
BY BRETT COX
27/12/2008 4:00:00 AM
Low fish stocks are forcing penguins to come closer to shore to look for a feed, with five needing rescuing after washing onto South Coast beaches during the past week.
Australian Seabird Rescue South Coast branch co-ordinator Julie Clarke yesterday halted family celebrations twice to pick up two fairy penguins, one that washed ashore at Port Kembla and the other at Bawley Point, south of Ulladulla.
She feeds the birds and keeps them housed in a backyard coop until they are healthy enough to be released.
"They've ended up on the beaches because of the rough seas and because, due to changes in climate, fish stocks are low," Mrs Clarke said.
"They come in to the coast to look for fish and get washed ashore."
Both fairy penguins are adults and are underweight, with bruising from the heavy seas.
"Penguins are a resilient bird - the only issue is that with infections they can go downhill pretty quick," Mrs Clarke said.
Breeding time for fairy penguins is November to February.
While they often can be found near the Five Islands and Montague Island, it would normally be weeks between rescues.
The rise in penguin rescues mirrored an increase in the number of pelicans also needing treatment.
[PI9017] Australian Seabird Rescue South Coast can be contacted on 0431 282 238.
Story and Photo courtesy of Illawara Mercury @