Friday, July 11, 2014

Group to raise awareness of little blue penguins

 Little Blue Penguin, New Zealand
 Image source


Timaru's little blue penguins are set to become a tourist attraction thanks to a newly formed support group. The group of 16 met at the RSA on Tuesday night, where they discussed plans to improve awareness and protection of the birds. They are now working on ways to improve signage for visitors, group member Peter Bennett said. He suggested that schools might like to get involved to create some signs.

Dozens of the smallest penguin species have set up homes along Caroline Bay, Waimataitai Beach, the North Mole and South Beach. Group members will also look at ways to create barriers to protect the penguins without limiting people's view of the birds, Bennett said. "It's not stopping people, just giving the penguins a little bit more protection."

The group also wants to design a pamphlet to inform visitors that the penguins can be viewed for free at Caroline Bay. That pamphlet was likely to be made available from the Timaru i-Site and possibly motels.

Bennett said the meeting was a success. Existing members attended, along with three people who wanted to join. The group is focused on giving people a chance to see the birds at no charge, Bennett said. "The Marine Parade location is the ideal area to safely observe them, with signage and minimal barriers to educate people to give them space. "It's all about giving them the opportunity to become a visitor attraction in Timaru."

An annual count of the birds late last year found there were 42 adults and 11 chicks. Fifty were recorded in 2012. The group's next meeting is at the Timaru RSA on September 2.


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