Monday, February 22, 2016

Fiordland crested penguin ends up in Foxton


Endangered penguin swims more than 1000km to end up on Foxton Beach.
A Fiordland crested penguin found itself a long way from home when he  discovered about 1000km away on Foxton Beach.

The endangered Fiordland crested penguin, or tawaki, typically breeds along coastlines south of Bruce Bay in South Westland, to Fiordland and the islands of Foveaux Strait and Stewart Island.

However one young male went a step further, swimming roughly more than 1000km from Fiordland to show up on Foxton Beach on Sunday.

A Fiordland crested penguin is staying at Wildbase Hospital while it waits to return to its home in the south.
Warwick Smith/ Fairfax NZ
A Fiordland crested penguin is staying at Wildbase Hospital while it waits to return to its home in the south.
The bird was found by Department of Conservation staff and brought to Wildbase Hospital in Palmerston North after an attempt to send it back home was unsuccessful.

DOC Manawatu biodiversity senior ranger Clint Purches said they got a phone call from a member of the public after the penguin swam ashore with her dog.

"I popped it back in the water and it went along the beach and came straight back into the next lot of people," he said.

Because it was such a busy spot, the decision was made to take the penguin to Wildbase.

"To leave it at the beach we would have had an issue with dogs."

Wildbase director Brett Gartrell said the penguins occasionally came this far north when looking for breeding grounds. Though the warmer temperature typically sent them back.

"They normally decide it is a bad idea and go back south... This is the first time we've had one make its way up here."

The Fiordland crested penguin is one of the rarest of its kind in the world.

Gartrell guessed the penguin was born last summer and probably came onto the beach in need of a rest.

The penguin was given a check over at the hospital to make sure it was alright. Gartrell said they hoped to release it out at sea later this week, with the help of the Coastguard.

In the meantime, it was being kept in a specially cooled room and was enjoying a diet of salmon.
According to DOC, some birds have also been found as far away as the Chatham Islands, the subantarctic islands and the Australian coast from New South Wales to Western Australia.

The current population is between 2500 and 3000 breeding pairs and has been in decline since the 1950s.

DOC warn that stoats and dogs pose a serious risk to the penguin colonies. A single dog has the potential to wipe out an entire colony. The penguins are also highly susceptible to human disturbance when nesting.


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