31 July 2011

Penguin houses installed to help improve numbers

Granite Island little penguin pair.
Photo credit: Natalie Gilbert
AUSTRALIA - The local housing situation for little penguins on Granite Island, South Australia, is looking much better after the installation of nest boxes as part of a penguin habitat planting day on 27 July.

The island's penguin population has declined significantly; 10 years ago there were more than 2000 penguins and last year there were only 146.

The planting day was organised by Friends of Encounter Seabirds and Granite Island Recreation and Nature Park. As well as installing around 50 nesting boxes, students from Investigator College and other volunteers planted 300 local native plants provided by the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board in the south-west corner of the island.

The penguins have not been nesting in this part of the island for some time now, which could have contributed to the population decline.

“The planting day and installation of nest boxes aims to improve the nesting habitat in these areas to encourage penguins to return,” says Annelise Wiebkin, Friends of Encounter Seabirds penguin ecologist.

Tony Flaherty, Manager Coast and Marine for the Board said, "Little penguins are under pressure from predators and disturbance from people."

He told ABC News that historically penguins had nested in the south-west area of the island but some of the habitat had been degraded.

"There's been some erosion issues and other things so we're hoping by providing more areas for penguins to nest that we can help the penguin numbers recover." 

Sources
Penguin housing helped by students, 25 July 2011, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board
Project aims to coax Granite Island penguins back by Scott Bills, 27 July 2011, ABC News

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