14 February 2011

DOC relocates vulnerable Fiordland penguins

Fiordland Crested-Penguin
A Fiordland penguin. Photo by 57Andrew
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NEW ZEALAND - The Department of Conservation (DOC) has had to relocate two vulnerable Fiordland penguins recently.

One was found in New Plymouth on the North Island's west coast, quite far from the species' usual habitat along the southern coast of the South Island and Stewart Island.

Bryan Williams of DOC's marine team told the Taranaki Daily News, "It's only the second sighting [in the Taranaki region] in 20 years."

The poor penguin was looking a bit worse for wear after being battered by the rough weather so DOC took it into protective custody overnight. The next day the penguin was put on tug boat going south to be released in the ocean closer to home.

The other Fiordland penguin was found on a beach on the Otago coastline, south of Dunedin, where they are a much more common sighting. DOC biodiversity assets programme manager David Agnew told the Otago Daily Times that Fiordland penguins were the next most common penguins seen on Otago beaches after yellow-eyed and little penguins.

Since this penguin was just beginning its moult, it wouldn't be able to go back into the water for several weeks, and on this particular beach would have been at risk of dog attacks.

DOC moved the penguin to a safer place on Sandfly Bay on the Otago Peninsula, where it could moult in peace.

DOC praised the person who had notified them about the penguin's presence on the beach, and hoped that more people would act the same way if they saw vulnerable penguins during moulting season.

Sources
Doc pleased vulnerable penguin reported by Rebecca Fox, 2 February 2011, Otago Daily Times
Tug gets visitor on route, 1 February 2011, Taranaki Daily News

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