14 June 2011

Starving little penguins dot Warrnambool beaches

AUSTRALIA - Dozens of starving little penguins have washed up on beaches in Warrnambool, Victoria, in the past few weeks reports The Standard.

Many of the penguins have been rescued, but die soon after.

"They are very thin when we get them," Wildlife Victoria's regional co-ordinator, Trecey Wilson, who has rescued 20 penguins in the past four weeks and knows of other carers who have also rescued birds, told The Standard.

"All have died within 12 hours of being found by beachgoers and brought in. I think it's definitely malnutrition."

She said there could be many issues involved in why they would be starving. There were suggestions that recent migrations of blue whales close to the shore and an influx of southern blue fin tuna and shearwaters, all of which prey on some of the same food as little penguins, could have caused a decrease in prey availability in the south-west.

Warrnambool Coastcare Landcare Group co-ordinator Kristie King told The Standard, "I tend to think it's something to do with ocean conditions and food availability."

Sadly, it sounds to me like La Nina strikes again.

Questions and concern over starving penguins by Peter Collins, The Standard, 13 June 2011

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