22 November 2011

The mystery of the Mystery Bay penguin head

AUSTRALIA - The somewhat gruesome discovery of a severed, decayed penguin head on a beach at, fittingly, Mystery Bay in Narooma, New South Wales, has led to a ... well, mystery.

After Christina Potts and Mandy Anderson found the crested penguin head, the two Coastcare volunteers turned detective to try to find out which species of penguin it belongs to and how it ended up in Mystery Bay.

Each of the experts they have contacted so far has tentatively identified the head as that of a Fiordland penguin, a species that lives on New Zealand's South Island and Stewart Island. These penguins are rare visitors to Australia; if they do make the trans-Tasman trip, it's usually because of a severe weather event.

Another possibility is that it is a Snares penguin, a species which is endemic to the Snares Islands, a subantarctic island group off the coast of New Zealand.

Investigations continue, but the ultimate plan is for the penguin's remains to join the avian collection at the Australian Museum in Sydney.

A penguin mystery for Mystery Bay at Narooma, Narooma News, 16 November 2011

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