Starvation blamed for penguin deaths
Posted on February 24, 2009, 6:06am , 36 views
Starvation has been given as a possible reason why many penguins were found dead or dying on South East beaches last week.
Port MacDonnell resident Joan Lockwood counted nine dead fairy penguins in four days in the short stretch of beach between the Port MacDonnell jetty and the lighthouse, while many more were found on beaches near Piccaninni Ponds and Nene Valley.
Department of Environment and Heritage Lower South East district ranger Ross Anderson said females bred a month earlier and had low body weights before their breeding in Victoria.
“Radio-tracked penguins are travelling more than 100km for food. This suggests a food shortage as they usually travel only 20km,” Mr Anderson said.
“Chicks have also departed their burrows in Victoria with a low body weight and did not have any fat to carry them through the time required to learn how to hunt for fish.”
Mr Anderson said a lot of deaths of juvenile birds were also recorded around Warrnambool and Discovery Bay, but breeding birds in the South East and Fleurieu Peninsula appeared to be unaffected.
“This has happened before. We have seen it happen in 1995 and again in 2002,” he said.
Meanwhile a Mount Gambier veterinarian, who last week performed an autopsy on one of the penguins, gave pneumonia as the likely cause of death.
But Mr Anderson said pneumonia was a common occurrence when animals were “not doing too well” and their immune system was low.
Story courtesy of Border Watch @
Food shortage killing Phillip Island penguins
Article from: Herald Sun
January 28, 2009 12:00am
DEAD penguins washed up at Phillip Island are victims of food shortages - a natural summer phenomenon - an expert has said.
The birds have also been washing up between Mornington Peninsula and Lorne and around Port Phillip Bay.
Phillip Island Nature Park research manager Dr Peter Dann said while chicks were getting food when adults returned from sea, it was not always enough to sustain them.
"Although this is not something we like to see, research shows that 80 per cent of fledglings and 15 per cent of the adult penguin population die each year," Dr Dann said.
Tracking showed some adult birds travelled as far as 130km out to sea to find food, taking up to a week per trip.
"Ideally, the adults should be returning most nights to feed their chicks," Dr Dann said.
It was not uncommon for large numbers of penguins to wash up from December to March, he said. Despite the mortality rate, a recent study showed Phillip Island colonies were in good health.
Story and image and the Herald Sun@