Little blue penguins are washing up on North Island beaches in droves and the Department of Conservation is warning the public to leave them alone.
The DOC Whangarei office was swamped by calls last week by concerned members of the public and now the world’s smallest penguin is washing up on Bay of Plenty beaches as well.
DOC 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.
And some are often just looking for somewhere to rest.
Mr Lummis warns the penguins can carry nasty bacteria and people should stay well away.
If you find a live penguin, you should move it up to the long grass to rest but use an old towel or rag to do so.
Then throw the towel away and clean your hands thoroughly to avoid bacterial contamination.
If the penguin is alive and injured phone 0800 DOCHOTline (0800 362 468).