Monday, February 8, 2016

Protecting the little penguin population

Monday 08 Feb, 2016 | By Zoe Hunter 

News reporter Hilary Barry's recent encounter with a little blue penguin found exhausted and a little battered by the big surf has got The Weekend Sun thinking. Where can our readers go to look after the rescue penguins found in trouble on Bay of Plenty beaches?
‘Flipper' the little blue penguin found washed ashore on Maketu Beach last January. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

Mauao Area Wildlife Trust offers the option of adopting a little blue penguin, which helps trustees to protect the penguin population at Mount Maunganui by protecting and enhancing their habitats.

There is an estimated 800 penguins nesting on Mauao, about 200 on Moturiki Island (Leisure Island) and an estimated 400 on Rabbit Island (Motuotau).

Many penguins were washed ashore Mount Main Beach battered and bruised in the recent Tropical Cyclone Victor, with the big waves proving difficult for adult penguins to hunt and feed and life-threatening for the fledglings.

Adopting a penguin doesn't give a free pass to take the penguin home like Hilary did with her rescue penguin named Doby, although she did do a fine job in caring for him according to her many Facebook updates.

Julia Graham from Mauao Area Wildlife Trust says people who adopt a penguin will receive regular updates on how the penguin is going in its natural habitat.

“These are generally the adult penguins that are microchipped from the Rena oil spill.”

The tragic oil spill on October 5, 2011, caused much harm to marine wildlife, killing more than 2000 birds including little blue penguins, shags, wandering albatross, gannet and petrels.

“Because of the three years of monitoring we know where they live and we can check on them regularly so we can send updates to them [people who adopt],” says Julia.

It costs $100, or $10 per month, to adopt a penguin.

“The money from that helps go towards rubbish days, planting, revegetating the areas, and educating people on what to do when they come across the penguins,” says Julia.

“It's another option rather than just being a member you can actually adopt a penguin.”

Julia says there is currently about 15 penguins part of the trust's monitoring programme.

To adopt a Little Blue Penguin,
You will receive a special adoption pack including a certificate featuring your adopted animal, a soft toy, sticker and magnet pack, an information pack about your adopted animal and regular updates on the status of your adopted animal.

Adopting a penguin also helps to protect other native species including petrels, geckos, skinks and native plants in their Mount Maunganui habitats.


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