Penguin counters in Timaru will swap their nighttime shifts for daytime ones this spring.
Penguin Support Group group co-ordinator Peter Bennett said a new counting method would be used this year. "This
year we will be using a different counting method using their daytime
location rather than what comes in after dark," Bennett said.
The method focused on penguin breeding numbers rather than the number of birds counted after dark, he said. "The method is used along Banks Peninsula. We are going to be looking at nest locations along Marine Parade."
Bennett said at the last unofficial count, on September 27, there were five penguins spotted in the bay.
is time for penguins to start their family and they are returning to
the bay slowly. Based on the five we are hoping for two nests."
In spring in 2014, the group spotted nine or 10 breeding pairs which only produced five chicks.
Bennett said the new method would be more convenient for the group members. "There
will be counting activities for our members during day time and it will
be done fortnightly. It will be better than going out in the evening
and staying out till 11 or 12pm."
The method will potentially be used in a month's time, he said, depending on the Department of Conservation. "They are experienced and will be helping us use the method."
The group now has 20 members and is responsible for looking after penguins in the Caroline Bay area.
... and once even saved a baby penguin
from a melted ice hole
Experts on nature shows say they agonise over whether to help animals
Some admit helping stricken creatures if it does not interfere with nature
Cameraman Doug Allan said he once saved a penguin from melted ice hole
Steph Cockroft for MailOnline
Published: 27 September 2015
filmmakers have admitted coming to the rescue of stricken animals while
filming some of the most heartbreaking scenes in nature documentaries.
working on Springwatch and Autumnwatch say they constantly agonise over
whether to save animals from perilous situations - and often decide to
do so if it does not interfere with nature's intended path.
Allan, David Attenborough's favourite cameraman, said he once saved a
baby penguin by picking it out of a melted ice hole and putting it back
on its feet.
BBC filmmakers such as Doug Allan, who
filmed these emperor penguins for the Blue Planet, have admitted
helping animals while filming nature shows
Martin Hughes-Games, who presents Springwatch, said his team had once
caused 'absolute uproar' after intervening while a bird's nest was being
at the Radio Times Festival at Hampton Court, he said: 'Half the people
said, "why didn't you intervene", and others then said, "you shouldn't
'We're respectful of nature. But it's incredibly hard not to intervene.
'We probably spend more time debating that than anything else on the Watches.'
who is behind some of the most famed polar scenes, admitted tending to
some animals, provided it did not upset the natural balance.
'For me, at least, my job is to look and not interfere,' The Telegraph reported him as saying.
'If I feel my presence is tilting the balance of the predator or the prey, then I'm doing something wrong.'
Leonard, a television vet, also told the audience that letting nature
takes its course was one of the 'hardest things to face'.
'We have to recognise that these injured animals are somebody else's lunch, I'm afraid,' he said.
Alistair Fothergrill, the producer of nature series including Planet
Earth, said his next show The Hunt, due to air on the BBC in November,
would shine the spotlight on predators to allow viewers to sympathise
with both the hunter and hunted.
This column is part of a series where Verge staffers post
highly subjective reviews of animals. Up until now, we've written about
animals without telling you whether they suck or rule. We are now
rectifying this oversight.
But I don't want to talk about all penguins because the field is far too diverse. Instead I want to focus on Spheniscus demersus
— the African penguin. To do this review properly, I knew I had to see
these creatures firsthand, so earlier this month, I visited the Boulders
Beach penguin colony in South Africa.
First, a little bit about the African penguin in particular. Found in
both South Africa and Namibia, the African penguin sports white streaks
from head to toe and distinct patterns of spots on its belly, all of
which says, "I know fashion, but I also know how to be an individual."
I'd like to see more color, but a black-and-white combination is
time-tested class and works in most occasions.
See that bit of pink above their eyes? That's built-in air conditioning
(or "thermoregulation," if you want to be more technical — and yes, we
humans have a less pronounced version of it, as well). When the penguin
heats up, those glands fill with more blood to help lose heat. It also
has the added benefit of turning a bright pinkish red, which is great
for summer fashion.
It doesn't start out that cute, though. In fact, I'd go as far as to
say these baby penguins are pretty ugly, especially compared to some
other baby penguin species. I mean really, what are they thinking with that coat?
Thankfully, they grow out of those awkward beginnings. There's one
thing they don't grow out of, however, and before we go on, I want you
to imagine what an African penguin sounds like. Sounds like a wispy
Elijah Wood in your head, right? Now, turn up your speakers and watch
I'm so, so sorry.
African penguins are also known as jackass penguins because they
create a sound not unlike a donkey braying. This isn't proof of some
divine being trying to balance out all the creatures' good quality with
one major fault, but it is an unfortunate con here.
Here, have a Benedict Cumberbatch and cleanse that aural palate (starting at 3:18):
Another problem? African penguins are rather limited in supply — endangered,
you could say — with an estimated 55,000 left in 2010. (That number was
closer to 200,000 at the turn of this century and 3 to 4 million a
century before that.) You could argue, as some have,
that this is due to predator seals, overfishing, climate change, or
some other horrible thing outside of their control. Me? I blame it on a
lack of opposable thumbs. This is a clear evolutionary oversight, so I
have to knock off points.
Okay, so African penguins are not as iconic as emperor penguins, nor are they as flamboyant as the southern rockhopper penguin (but what is, am I right?). Still, their style is understated, their sense of community is laudable, and dammit, I want one.
penguins have another name: “beach donkeys.” Early European explorers
were said to have named them that after they followed the sound of
donkey calls, only to find a coast full of birds. Now we know what these
donkey calls mean.
penguins make a range of sounds from begging peeps to moaning contact
calls—but they save the full donkey brays for when they want to attract a
mate. These calls are what’s known as “ecstatic display songs,” and
when a “donkey call” finally nets the penguin a mate, they sing
And if they like that, they should try listening to actual donkeys.
Most dogs harass nesting birds. But maremma dogs helped revive a penguin colony off of Australia's coast.
A decade ago, Amanda Peucker lived through a penguin scientist's
worst nightmare. As a PhD student at Australia's Deakin University,
Peucker hopped from colony to colony, collecting blood samples of Little
Penguins for genetic research as the birds bred on Australia’s southern
coast. Then, in the midst of her project, an entire penguin colony
vanished. Foxes, an introduced species in Australia, had invaded the
colony on Middle Island, killed many of the birds, and scared the rest
"It was 50 penguins here, 60 there and it just kept going and going,"
Peucker says. “Within a year or two, it went from 600 down to four
individuals and no breeding. We just thought, that's it; there's nothing
we can do."
It turned out that wasn’t exactly true. It just took an outsider to
suggest a crazy idea to revive the colony. When local chicken farmer
Swampy Marsh heard about the Middle Island penguins, he thought of when
his own birds were under attack. To protect them from local predators,
Marsh adopted a maremma dog, an Italian breed with a strong guarding
instinct, to protect them. If maremmas could protect his chickens, could
they also protect the penguins?
That suggestion flew in the face of what most scientists understand
about bird-dog interactions—which, admittedly, isn’t very much.
Dogs—both wild dingoes and off-leash pets—are known to be among coastal
nesting birds’ top predators, in Australia and beyond. Foxes, dogs, and feral cats
threaten Little Penguins throughout their range. What little research
exists on the effects dogs have on birds has been for beach-nesting
birds like plovers and terns, says conservation biologist Mike Weston of
Deakin University. The effects dogs have on those species are pretty
clear: Dogs eat eggs and chicks, and they accidentally run over and
destroy nests when sprinting down beaches, he says.
But that’s not all. Dogs’ very presence keeps shorebird parents from
taking care of their eggs and young. When a dog is on the beach, even if
it is far off, bird parents often abandon their nests to save
themselves—and hopefully avoid giving the dogs an obvious clue as to
where their eggs lay hidden, says Weston. Worse, parent birds fly
farther from the nest and stay away longer in dogs’ presence than in
that of other threats including people, raptors, or crows.
So when Marsh suggested putting a large dog on Middle Island, "we
thought, 'my god, that is a crazy idea,'" recalls Peucker. "But we had
no other option."
And so the next year, in 2006, Marsh’s maremma, named Oddball, made
her debut as a penguin protector. For the month of November, she lived
on Middle Island (under human supervision) as a test run for the idea.
While Peucker didn't think that Oddball would hurt the penguins, she was
worried about how the penguins would react to Oddball—would fear drive
them from the island and their chicks?
In the end, just as Oddball ignored the penguins, the penguins were
unfazed by Oddball. She deterred the foxes enough that birds returned to
breed—that year, 70 adult penguins lived on the colony and 12 chicks
survived to fledging. The population has slowly grown ever since and is
now 130 birds strong.
"When the dog was on the island, we had no fox prints at all," says
Peucker, but when Oddball left, the fox prints returned. "So it seemed
to work very well!"
After the successful test, two other maremma puppies were trained to
protect Middle Island's penguins. The current pair—sisters named Eudy
and Tula for the Little Penguin genus name Eudyptula—spend 5
months per year on the island, just long enough to deter foxes during
breeding and molting seasons (they do get weekends off). Oddball has
since gone back to Marsh’s farm, but the story of Oddball’s pioneering
side-job has been made into a movie, Oddball, which opened in
Australian theaters last week. (Negotiations are currently in progress
for a U.S. release; our fingers are crossed.)
Scientists still aren’t sure why the Little Penguins didn't react
poorly to the maremmas, but they’re taking advantage of the relationship
in other places: About 75 miles away in Portland, Victoria, maremmas revived an Australasian Gannet colony after foxes and feral cats decimated it in 2007. And Zoos Victoria is currently training maremmas to protect endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoots after they are reintroduced into the wild. (The entire species currently lives in captivity).
If these projects succeed, using guard dogs to protect vulnerable
animal colonies could perhaps expand beyond its oddball beginnings into a
viable conservation tactic.
Oamaru Penguin Colony tour guide and research assistant Aimee Horrell is excited an expansion of the business will go ahead. Approval for a $400,000 expansion of the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony has excited staff at the popular tourist attraction.
Waitaki District Council approved a $250,000 internal loan for the
expansion at a meeting on September 16. An additional $150,000 will be
funded by Tourism Waitaki. Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill said the organisation was happy to work with the Waitaki District Council.
"We are really excited funding has been approved," he said. "The
Penguin Colony is one of the most recognisable tourist attractions in
Oamaru - between 70,000 and 75,000 people visit the colony each year.
The funding and subsequent expansion will make sure the facility is able
to accommodate the people that are coming to visit."
be used to expand the building, upgrade the inside and give it a refresh
as well, as install a new toilet block, he said. "The building
was originally opened in 1992 and had some work done over a few years.
Some major work was done to the property in 2010 and 2011. We had a new
habitat put in and a new, smaller grandstand was built," Gaskill said. "We always thought we would next turn our attention to the interior." He
said they intended to use the funding to expand the visitor centre and
improve the way in which people could interact with the penguins to make
it "more of an experience."
One idea is to make the centre more research-focused, as well as creating a space for children.
Gaskill said the carpark, which the colony shares with surrounding
businesses, would not be upgraded or expanded as yet, though it is still
being discussed. "Conversations around the carpark are ongoing. Our current focus is on the building."
Waitaki and the Waitaki District Council were currently working on
final plans and there no time frame has been set as yet for the
expansion and upgrade to commence, he said. The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony is open daily all year round from 10am and closes several hours after sunset.
Press Release: New Zealand GovernmentHon Nicky Wagner Associate
Minister of Conservation 18 September
Support for world’s smallest
The Blue Penguin – the world’s
smallest – is one of several West Coast seabirds that will
receive support as part of the Community Conservation
Partnership Fund’s support for West Coast conservation
projects, says Associate Conservation Minister Nicky
“The $98,000 investment will help the West Coast
Penguin Trust conduct research and carry out practical
projects to protect blue penguins and other West Coast
seabirds,” Ms Wagner says.
“As well as the Blue
Penguin, the investment will help to conserve the Fiordland
crested penguins and other threatened seabirds and habitat
on the West Coast.
“Projects include roadside fences to
protect penguins from traffic, GPS logging of penguin
feeding expeditions, education programmes, and studying
seabirds and predator species in new locations for potential
pest eradication and habitat restoration.”
are the world’s smallest breed of penguin, growing to
about 30 cm tall and weighing about one kilogram.
conservation in the Buller District will receive a $104,000
investment in the Mokihinui Biodiversity Enhancement
“The project will control stoat and other pest
populations to help support recovery of whio population and
establish the South Island’s 11th Whio Recovery
“The Kawatiri River Trail Boardwalks, north of
Westport, will also be completed. The $80,000 CCPF
investment will open this valuable conservation area to more
people while improving flora and fauna by undertaking
“The Paparoa Wildlife Trust will also
receive $37,000 to help maintain 650 predator control traps
across the 3617 ha ‘Roaring Meg’ ecological
“The Okarito Community Nursery will receive
$33,000, helping the Nursery to continue to provide native
seedlings for restoration sites and riparian management on
“Together, these projects will be a welcome
boost for conservation on the West Coast,” Ms Wagner
Community Conservation Partnership Forum
• West Coast Penguin Trust:
$98,000 • Mokihinui Biodiversity Enhancement Project:
$104,000 • Buller Cycling Club: $80,000 • Roaring
Meg Pest Control: $37,000 • Okarito Community Nursery:
Most of the country’s
children may be back at school for the new academic year, but it’s
graduation day for another set of young students.
Five penguin chicks at
Folly Farm have graduated from penguin nursery, where they have learned
how to live without their parents after being fledged from their nests
When penguin chicks reach around eight to 12 weeks of
age, their parents will not allow them back into their nest and leave
them to fend for themselves.
The five Humboldt chicks -Cogsworth,
Bagheera, Abu, Scuttle and Thumper - were taken to a special penguin
nursery enclosure, where they were taught key penguin survival skills
such as how to eat whole fish instead of the regurgitated food fed to
them by their parents.
After being in the nursery for eight weeks,
the chicks - who are now just over four months old - have graduated and
moved back into the main penguin enclosure.
Caroline Davies, a penguin keeper at Folly Farm, said she was very proud to see how much the chicks have progressed:
was all very emotional, as it was a big step in their lives and it was
lovely to see them being confident with all the other penguins. I felt
like a proud parent.
“They all have such distinct personalities,
so it’s easy to get attached. Abu is the youngest, and got told off a
lot by the other chicks for pulling their tails all the time - he was
definitely the naughty one.
“Cogsworth, the eldest, turned into a
bit of a diva. We put mirrors in the enclosure as part of the penguins’
enrichment, and she would stare at her own reflection for hours. She was
also very picky about who she’d let into her nest!”
graduation day, the penguins were weighed and fed a big breakfast,
before being walked down to the big pool in the main enclosure and
reintroduced to the other 30 penguins in the colony.
Thomas, who has been a penguin keeper at Folly Farm since their arrival
in 2013, said: “It feels like the end of an era, saying goodbye to
another group of chicks. This our second group, and both Caroline and I
felt more laid back this year after being anxious first time mums last
“Helping the chicks get used to feeding on whole fish is
hard work, especially for the first few weeks, and we also teach them
how to feed under water as they would in the wild.”
She added: “I
would say that Thumper has the biggest appetite, she once ate 16 fish in
one sitting. The average would usually be eight to 10 fish. She also
really likes chasing bubbles.
“Penguins are very sensory animals;
they love lights and sounds in particular. We hung up some cd’s for
them to chase the reflections, they love looking at the lights.”
The final part of the young penguins’ learning process will be to learn how to socialise and feed as part of a larger group.
part of a breeding programme, they will then move on to another zoo,
where they will use what they learned at Folly Farm to integrate with a
new group before finding a partner to breed with.
For more information on Folly Farm visit www.folly-farm.co.uk
Penguins are attracted to colours on their partner's bills that are invisible to our eyes
French scientists studied a colony of amorous penguins near Antarctica
Found King penguins are attracted to the colours in each other's beaks
'Beak spots' look orange to humans but the penguins also see UV light
Experts found birds with similar coloured beaks form committed pairs
Sarah Griffiths for MailOnline
Published: 17 September 2015
The eyes may be the window to the soul, but for penguins colourful beaks are the most alluring feature on a partner. Scientists
have discovered king penguins are attracted to the colours in each
other's bills, which include hues that are invisible to humans. And
the saying 'opposites attract' seemingly doesn't apply to the birds
because committed pairs have been found to have similar beak colours to
Beauty is in the eye of the
beak-holder: Scientists have discovered that King penguins are attracted
to the colours in each other's beaks, including hues invisible to
humans. A stock image of a pair of penguins is shown
King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) are the second largest penguin species, after the emperor. They stand 26 to 39 inches (70cm to one metre) tall and weight 24 to 35lbs (11 to 16kg). They are monogamous for around once year at a time and gather in huge breeding colonies in springtime.
Birds on the edge of the group flirt with each other, by rubbing against each other, for example, before pairing off. 'Committed pairs' then move further into the colony and mate, while 'temporary pairs' try to form new partnerships. While
previous studies have suggested a penguin's 'beak spot' may be an
important differentiator for choosing a mate, a French study has shed
light on just how important the bright orange area on either side of the
bird's beak is.
Bringing sexy beak: Birds on the edge
of the group flirt with each other, by rubbing against each other (stock
image) for example, before pairing off. Researchers found that penguins
with similar-coloured beaks had more successful relationships than
those in which the colours differed
Like many other birds, penguins can see ultraviolet light, so the area looks more than orange to them. A
team led by Ismaël Keddar of the Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et
Evolutive in Montpellier, observed king penguins living on the Kerguelen
Islands, between Antarctica and South Africa. Around 2,000 penguins congregate there to breed.
The scientists followed 75 pairs of birds on the edge of a colony flirting with each other. They caught them, weighed them and measured the colours of their beaks and chest patches.
Plenty more fish in the sea: The
scientists followed the birds' romantic trysts to find that some
committed and laid eggs, while others went their separate ways in a bid
to find a better match. A stock image of a larger colony on South
Georgia Island is shown
They then released the birds, which were able to pair up again by recognising each other's voices. The
scientists followed the birds' romantic trysts to find that some
committed and laid eggs, while others went their separate ways in a bid
to find a better match. Unravelling
the secret to certain pairs' success using computer modelling, the
researchers were able to see how beaks appear to other penguins.
And they found that the birds' beak colours correlated to the success of their relationships.
particular, they found king penguins that formed committed pairs had
similar beak colours to each other, but the colours on their chests and
side of their heads didn't matter.The
authors write in the study: 'The members of definitive pairs, but not
members of temporary pairs, were more similar for the colour of their
beak spots than members of randomly formed pairs...but only for the
UV/violet and yellow/orange colors of the beak spots.'
of the beak spots of females involved in definitive pairs suggested a
stronger stimulation of UV-/violet-sensitive cones, a stronger
stimulation of medium wave-sensitive cones (i.e. more yellow coloured)
and a weaker stimulation of long wave-sensitive cones (i.e. less orange
coloured) in the retinas of other penguins than females involved in
is thought mutual attraction is necessary between the birds because
they both take turns incubating an egg and raising a chick. 'An
alternative hypothesis, however, is that females choose males with
highly coloured beak spots, and only females with the most highly
coloured beak spots proceed into the breeding colony for egg laying,'
the study says.
scientists also noted: '...females involved in definitive pairs had
longer flippers and thus were probably larger in structural body size,
compared to females involved in temporary pairs.'
THE LOVE LIFES OF KING PENGUINS AND THEIR CHICKS
King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) are the second largest penguin, after the emperor. They are between 26 to 39 inches (70-100cm) tall and weigh 24 to 35lbs (11 to 16kg). They live in the South Atlantic and breed on sub Antarctic islands.
Penguins are serially monogamous,
choosing one mate a year. They stay faithful to them for a period of
time before moving onto the next. Committed couples raise a chick
together and later put it in a crèche (pictured)
King penguins can breed from three years of age, but most wait until six. They
are serially monogamous, choosing a mate a year and stay faithful to
them for a period of time. But fidelity between years is only 29 per
birds flirt with each other on the edges of a colony and choose a mate
based on the colour of their beak spot, the new study says. They move further into a colony if they have formed a committed pair and mate. It
takes 14 to 16 months from the laying of an egg to offspring fledging,
so most pairs only breed successfully every two to three years. The female lays one pear-shaped egg which is incubated for 55 days with the parents taking turns.
with only a thin covering of down are sheltered by their parents in a
pouch for 30 to 40 days, by which time the chick has grown large enough
to stay warm and protect itself from some predators. It begins to explore its surroundings and stays with other young penguins in a crèche, guarded by a few adults. It's 14 to 16 months before a young chick is ready to hunt at sea.
Chicks with only a thin covering of
down are sheltered by their parents in a pouch for 30 to 40 days, by
which time the chick has grown large enough to stay warm and protect
itself from some predators. A stock image of a chick following its
parent is shown
Grey/Silver the pengun. (Photo credit Tufts/via Facebook)
GRAFTON (CBS) — A penguin is showing his appreciation for the veterinarians who have been taking care of him.
Grey/Silver, a penguin at the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut,
recently completed radiation treatments at Foster Hospital For Small
Animals at Tufts University.
The hospital said staff in the oncology ward grew quite attached to the little penguin, and he made sure to thank them.
“His caretakers at Mystic Aquarium were so thankful for the
specialized treatment that Grey/Silver received that they presented the
staff with this one-of-a-kind painting created by Grey/Silver himself,” the hospital said in a Facebook post.
By Elizabeth Preston |
September 16, 2015
If Tinder for penguins existed, birds with the best beak spots would
get swiped right. King penguins are attracted to the colors on each
other’s beaks, scientists have found—including colors we clueless humans
King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) live near the bottom
of the world and are monogamous for about a year at a time. They’re a
little smaller than emperor penguins, the ones you saw in March of the Penguins,
and have a less arduous lifestyle. In the spring, they gather on the
shore in massive breeding colonies. Individuals on the edges of the
colony flirt with each other and form tentative pairs. Once two penguins
have committed, they move farther into the colony and get down to
Earlier research suggested that the king penguin’s “beak spot” might
be important to how it chooses mates. This is the vivid orange area on
either side of the bottom of the beak. It’s really a vivid
orange-and-ultraviolet area, if you have a penguin’s eyes. Penguins have
cone cells that let them see UV, like many other birds, in addition to
all the colors a human sees.
Ismaël Keddar of France’s Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et
Evolutive and his colleagues went to the Kerguelen Islands, also called
the Desolation Islands, to learn more. There, about 200,000 king
penguins had come together to breed.
The researchers observed penguins at the periphery of the group and
selected 75 pairs* who were in the flirting stage. They gently captured
both members of a pair so they could weigh the penguins, measure the
colors of their beaks and chest patches with a spectrophotometer, and
take other vital stats. Then they released the birds where they’d
captured them. (Even at this early relationship stage, penguin partners
can find each other by their voices.) Afterward, the researchers kept
monitoring these penguin pairs. Some committed and laid eggs, while
others broke apart to seek better prospects.
Even though humans can’t see a penguin beak in all its UV glory, the
scientists could use information about the light-sensing cells in
penguins’ eyes to model how their beak colors looked to other penguins.
They saw that relationship success was tied to beak color. Penguins that formed committed pairs had similar beak colors to each other.
The other factors that researchers measured, including the
orange patches on penguins’ chests and the sides of their heads, didn’t
matter. Only beak color seemed important to penguins trying to choose a
It’s more common in birds for males to be flashy, and for drab
females to choose among them. But in king penguins, each sex may be
judging the other. The authors say this makes sense because both
partners need to contribute heavily to raising young. The parents
take turns incubating the egg, then balancing the newly hatched chick on
their feet, while the other parent looks for food. If either parent is a
deadbeat, the chick won’t make it.
So both male and female king penguins have to be picky. And looking
for a partner with a beak like theirs is apparently a system that
works—at least until penguins hear about Match.com.
*Two of the pairs were left out of the results because they turned out to be same-sex—one pair of females and one of males. Image: by David Cook (via Flickr)
I., Altmeyer, S., Couchoux, C., Jouventin, P., & Dobson, F. (2015).
Mate Choice and Colored Beak Spots of King Penguins Ethology DOI: 10.1111/eth.12419
Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony employee Tiare Barlow stands
outside the colony's main building, which is part of a
$400,000 expansion project. Photo by Daniel Birchfield.
A $400,000 expansion of the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony is
to be partially funded by the Waitaki District Council. An internal loan of up to $250,000 to Tourism Waitaki, the
organisation which operates the colony, was approved by
The colony's main building is to be expanded and a toilet
The remaining $150,000 will be funded by Tourism Waitaki. Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill said the
expansion was required to keep up with the number of
More than 75,000 people visited the colony each year. ''We are currently very, very tight when we have large crowds
to provide adequate facilities. This extension is really to
keep up with peak volumes.''
While happy to support the project, councillors Sally Hope
and Melanie Tavendale expressed concerns that blueprints of
the proposed expansion project were not provided. ''It should be something we can see,'' Cr Tavendale said. ''I find it disappointing the plans are not attached and
there is no time frame as to when the loan will be paid back. There's so little actual detail here.''
Council chief financial officer Paul Hope said it was likely
the loan would be repaid in about 10 years. He did not
consider it to be a financial risk for council. ''The commitment is it will be a minimum cost to the council
... Council will not be worse off by approving this
The land and buildings at the site are owned by the council,
with the amount funded to be recovered through an amendment
to the colony's lease between the council and Tourism
When asked by Cr Jim Hopkins if it was possible for Tourism
Waitaki to one day buy the building, Tourism Waitaki chairman
Marcus Brown said while it was an ''attractive proposal'', it
was unlikely to happen. ''Our surplus is no great enough to do that.'' He added the expansion was essential given other penguin
attractions a short distance from Oamaru. ''We are now facing competition within the industry, mainly
in Dunedin and Timaru and elsewhere. If we want to be in the
game, we have to update our facilities.''
Wellington City councillor and Breaker Bay resident Ray
Ahipene-Mercer takes Wiki, a stuffed female penguin, into schools to
teach children about penguins.
Breaker Bay residents are taking no chances when it
comes to nesting penguins and have started a community of dog walkers to
cut the risk of dogs attacking penguins.
Allen Jenkins said residents started a dog walking group and have nearly 30 members.
are at least 35 dogs in Breaker Bay and there's a wonderful group of
people catching up with their dogs to make sure people know where dogs
are allowed," he said.
Dogs are not allowed on the coastal walkway
from Tarakena Bay to Moa Point as it is a penguin nesting area, and
dogs are a threat to penguin populations.
Dog owners in the area
self-manage the problem of dogs around penguins and do not need it from
outside groups such as Forest and Bird, he said.
Forest and Bird
Wellington branch committee member Ken New said the Places for Penguins
programme operates around the south coast to protect penguins from
"We've identified the two principal threats to Wellington penguins are dogs and cars," he said.
Breaker Bay residents were concerned that the Places for Penguins Take
the Lead campaign would see Forest and Bird observing residents without
Forest and Bird had planned to observe behaviour to quantify the threats to penguins in the area.
But when the residents were not happy about it, they did not do it, New said
"We really appreciate groups like Breaker Bay looking after the penguins because we don't have to," he said.
City councillor and Breaker Bay resident Ray Ahipene-Mercer said
education was the most important tool for keeping the penguins safe.
the last 20 years we've seen a great change from antipathy to
protection. We have to maintain the momentum with the education and
think about further creative ways of getting the message across," he
Ahipene-Mercer speaks to schools in the area about penguins and their nesting habits.
One of the most effective changes in the community was the installation of penguin crossing signs in 1990, he said.
The signs were replaced this year after the originals had deteriorated in Breaker Bay's wild weather.
built by Breaker Bay residents were constantly full and the population
of the penguins had increased in recent years, Ahipene-Mercer said.
Hala the penguin plays with a toddler named Brynn at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Tennessee. Jukin Media video screenshot
GATLINBURG, Tenn., Sept. 16 (UPI) -- A
young visitor to a Tennessee aquarium was recorded playing a game of
"tag" with a speedily swimming penguin that seemed fascinated by its
The video, posted to YouTube
by user Shelley Family, shows a toddler named Brynn running back and
forth in front of the glass of the penguin exhibit while one of the
flightless birds swims in pursuit at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in
The uploader said the bird in the video was identified as a penguin named Hala.
The family said the penguin appeared to be playing a game of "tag" with the toddler.
They've been our best friends for centuries, and in more recent years, dogs have proved they can also be our allies in conservation, from sniffing out endangered species to fighting wildlife crime.
One place where they've notched up a major conservation victory is on a
small island off the Australian coast, where a colony of tiny penguins
has been brought back from the brink – a success story that's now
inspired a multimillion-dollar movie that opens in the country this week.
Middle Island, a rocky outcrop off the coast of Victoria, is best
known for its avian inhabitants: it's home to a colony of the world's
smallest penguins. Just 33 centimetres tall (13 inches), the little penguin – or fairy penguin, if you prefer (of course you do!) – tips the scales at only around one kilogram.
The world's smallest penguin species, the little penguin (Eudyptula minor) stands just 33cm off the ground. Image: JJ Harrison, Flickr
While the birds spend most of their lives at sea, they do come ashore
when breeding season rolls round – and that's where Middle Island's
residents began running into trouble. The few hundred metres that
separate the island from the mainland are not much of an obstacle for
hungry foxes who proved quite capable of crossing the distance at low
tide for the promise of an easy penguin meal.
With the predators picking off the defenceless birds, populations
began to plummet dangerously: by 2005, what was once a colony numbering
in the hundreds had been left with fewer than ten survivors.
Enter "Oddball". The maremma sheepdog was initially bought by a
mainland farmer whose chickens were being targeted by the very same
enemy. "I used to spend my nights up with a rifle shooting foxes. One
night I noticed the neighbour's dog barking and the light went on in my
head. I realised he was barking at the same thing I was trying to
shoot," the farmer, Allan Marsh, told ABC last year.
Marsh decided to get a dog of his own, and Oddball soon proved to be a pro at keeping foxes away from the farm. After a series of fortunate events,
the sheepdog ended up on Middle Island, where wildlife officials hoped
her chicken-guarding skills could work to keep the penguins safe too.
Just as certain traits in high-energy Belgian shepherds make them great allies on anti-poaching missions in South Africa,
centuries of breeding have made maremma sheepdogs the perfect
guardians. Long used in Europe to keep livestock safe from wolves and
foxes, the dogs are calm, highly intelligent and gentle, yet fiercely
protective of their flocks.
Oddball first set paw on Middle Island in 2006, when the penguin
colony was on the verge of total collapse. Since then, other maremmas
have followed in her footsteps, and the Middle Island Maremma Project has
proved a major conservation success. Fox attacks have stopped entirely
and penguin numbers have been recovering, with around 180 birds at last
Eudy is one of two maremma sheepdogs guarding Middle Island's penguin colony during the breeding season. Image: Warrnambool City Council
Today, the pooch patrols are carried out by sisters Tula and Eudy, who spend
five days of the week on the island during the penguin breeding
season. "They love living on the island; they get very excited when they
go back there," says Peter Abbott, one of the dog handlers for the project. The dogs also ensure humans keep away, to minimise any disruption to nests.
After many summers of hard work, the dog duo has now reached retirement age, so the team is looking to raise funds
to train a new generation of penguin guardians. And getting enough
support for that project may prove easier when a movie based on
Oddball's amazing story hits Australian cinemas this week.
The Penguin Camera is located on Torgersen Island (64°46’S, 64°04’W), off the coast of Anvers Island and less than a mile from Palmer Station. Torgersen Island is home to a colony of Adélie penguins numbering approximately 2,500. This camera is seasonal and operates primarily from October to February, the Adélie breeding season. The camera is solar-powered and may sometimes experience brief outages due to inclement weather. School classrooms and other educational demonstrations will often take control of the camera, moving it to gain better views of the colony.
A lifelong student and confirmed polymath, I am currently writing my 2nd book this spring. I have an AS in Biology, a BA and an MA in English, plus I began a degree in Geology while living in CA. I am a retired herpetologist, but my blogs and current interests strive to promote animal conservation, particularly Penguins,Wolves, and Big Cats. I live with the loves of my life, Sissy, a Chihuahua, and Joey, Alero, Jillian, Loki, Jadin, Perse, Socks and Siggy - my ThunderCats - who help me cope with narcolepsy.