Friday, August 7, 2009

Penguin deaths raise concerns over beach safety

Penguin deaths raise concerns over beach safety
By MATT BOWEN - Eastern Courier

Mandy Robertson usually sees one little blue penguin delivered to her Whitford bird rescue centre each year.

But a recent string of deaths over 10 days ended with a sixth bird dying in her care on Sunday.

Mrs Robertson isn’t sure whether the penguin deaths are linked to dogs dying after walking on North Shore beaches.

Her initial thought was brodifacoum poison drops on Motutapu Island were to blame.

"It’s unclear what’s killing the penguins because the veterinarian’s post-mortem was inconclusive," she says.

There was no sign of haemorrhaging, which she says is a symptom of brodifacoum poisoning.

"But we have tissue samples stored," she says.

"When we have enough money we’ll have toxicology testing done."

Health authorities are urging caution around the Hauraki Gulf seashore after the two dogs’ deaths, and others falling sick after visiting North Shore beaches.

People are being warned to avoid contact with seawater and sealife, while children and pets should stay off beaches and shellfish should be left until the dogs’ cause of death is

The dogs suffered vomiting, staggering and frothing at the mouth.

Mrs Robertson says birds often come in sick and it’s possibly nothing to do with events at the North Shore beaches.

"I hate to think birds won’t be rescued because people are afraid to pick them up."

Manukau City Council also received a call from a woman who said her dog was severely ill after walking on Eastern Beach at the weekend.

She said she knew of four others with similar symptoms.

Mrs Robertson is happy to help if anyone comes across a sick or dying bird. To contact her phone 530-8283.


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