01 June 2011

Little penguins cover big distances

NEW ZEALAND - Recent research shows that the little penguins from Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony are quite well travelled.

Biologist Philippa Agnew started a three-year research project at the Colony last year to investigate what the world's smallest penguins get up to when they go foraging for food.

While the team are still analysing the data from this year's research, Colony manager Jason Gaskill told The Timaru Herald, "The breadth of the trips has been interesting to observe. Some of the trips have been longer than we expected, and to areas we did not expect."

Some highlights from the data include: the longest trip exceeded 100km over four to five days; the longest single-day trip was over 70km; and the average single-day trip was within a radius of 40km.

Meanwhile another set of figures, the ones for the Colony's 2010/11 breeding season, have given cause for celebration. There were 160 breeding pairs, 504 eggs, 406 chicks hatched and 365 chicks fledged.

"These indicate the highest numbers we have ever recorded at the Quarry colony," Mr Gaskill told The Timaru Herald, "and indicate a very successful breeding season."

Little blues travel widely by Rosa Studholme, 14 May 2011, The Timaru Herald

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