IT'S not every day you find a penguin on Northern Rivers beaches, particularly one so far from home.
This juvenile little "fairy" penguin was found hiding among the rocks on a Brunswick Heads beach yesterday.
The penguin has a deep cut to its back and several puncture wounds on its belly.
The injured animal was discovered by a four-year-old boy and is now in the care of volunteer group Australian Seabird Rescue in Ballina.
According to the NSW office of Environment and Heritage, little penguins can be found along the southern coasts of Australia, from Perth to as far north as Coffs Harbour.
The only known mainland breeding colony is Manly Cove, near Sydney Harbour, with several large Island colonies south of Wollongong.
Seabird Rescue general manager Kathrina Southwell said it was unusual to have a penguin on the Northern Rivers, but not unheard of.
She said Seabird Rescue has had about four penguins in care over the past 15 years.
"We would get a few every year…. But we just don't see most because they're usually healthy," she said.
It's unknown at this stage whether or not the penguin in care is female or male.
Ms Southwell said the penguin appeared to be a juvenile because the colour of its coat wasn't fully developed like the dark blue or grey of adult penguins.
The penguin was originally reported to Seabird Rescue on October 26, however volunteers had no luck finding it and it appeared, at that stage, to be in good health.
It was also spotted several times around Ocean Shores and Brunswick Heads before it was eventually found and taken into care.
It's unknown at this stage what caused the wounds.
The penguin is currently undergoing treatment at Lennox Head Veterinary Clinic before it will go back into Seabird Rescue care.Ms Southwell said the carers had to be careful not to interact with the penguin too much as they can be humanised easily, which could potentially jeopardise their survival in the wild.