30 December 2015

Penguin protection measures working in Simon's Town

SOUTH AFRICA - The City of Cape Town has released a statement thanking members of the public for their cooperation in ensuring its measures to protect endangered African penguins in Simon's Town are working.

No more penguins have been killed along the identified Simon’s Town hotspots since the measures were introduced on 1 November. They include mandatory leash areas for dog walkers, camera traps to monitor penguin attacks, and penguin monitors to ensure the birds are not harassed by visiting members of the public.

18 December 2015

Penguin cam captures hunt for prey

Penguins foraging as a group.
Photo credit: John Arnould, Deakin University
AUSTRALIA - "Penguin cams" attached to little penguins while they foraged showed they were more likely to work together to hunt schooling prey than solitary prey. The findings were published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Grace Sutton from Deakin University and colleagues.

Group foraging has advantages for cooperative predators. But the benefits of group foraging are not as clear for less cooperative predators like little penguins, because of the potential for competition. The authors of this study attached cameras to 21 little penguins from two breeding colonies in south-eastern Australia to determine their prey types, hunting strategies and success.

16 December 2015

New protected areas for Argentina's Magellanic penguins

Adult Magellanic penguin and two chicks begging for food.
Photo credit: Dee Boersma
ARGENTINA – They live far from the North Pole, but Christmas came early for the stout-bodied, black and white Magellanic penguins of Patagonia's Punta Tombo region. On 3 December, the legislature for Chubut province established a new marine protected area off Punta Tombo, which would help preserve the feeding grounds for about 500,000 Magellanic penguins that make their home along this rocky stretch of Argentine coast.

"This is really exciting. We've long wanted to see the waters around Punta Tombo protected," said University of Washington (UW) biology professor Dee Boersma, who has been studying the Magellanic penguins there for more than 30 years.

15 December 2015

Little penguin wardens thanked for their six month vigil

AUSTRALIA - The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) were joined by environmentalist Ian Kiernan AO at a special ceremony to thank the Manly little penguin wardens for their incredible dedication to protecting the little penguin colony at North Head through a tough breeding season.

Acting Head of NPWS Tom Bagnat said, despite the losses by fox attack early on, NPWS and the community successfully kept the remaining colony of little penguins safe for the rest of the breeding season.

“The community has been invaluable in helping parks’ staff to protect the little penguin colony over the past six months including assisting in the nightly vigil to keep the breeding birds safe from fox predation at their most vulnerable times,” Mr Bagnat said.

Researchers find that Australian and New Zealand little penguins are distinct species

Is this little penguin a Kiwi or an Aussie?
Photo credit: Otago University
AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND – A team of researchers from the University of Otago and University of Tasmania has discovered that Australian and New Zealand little penguins represent two distinct species, rather than one.

Scientists had previously wondered about the relationships between populations of the penguin (popularly known as little blue penguins or fairy penguins) found on either side of the Tasman. The trans-Tasman team used genetic techniques to compare populations from both countries, and surprisingly found that they are not the same species.

“We found a very strong pattern, where New Zealand has its own distinctive genetic group that is clearly very different from the Australian penguin populations,” said Dr Stefanie Grosser, who carried out the study as part of her Otago PhD project.

Sweltering heat further impacts yellow-eyed penguins

NEW ZEALAND - High temperatures throughout November have been unkind to Otago's yellow-eyed penguins, and nest numbers have hit rock bottom.

Despite the efforts of local conservation groups working hard to keep chicks alive, fewer than 190 breeding pairs have been counted on the Otago coast this season. In 2012, there were an estimated 491 breeding pairs.

Egg hatching success had remained around 85% in North Otago and on the Otago Peninsula, with avian diphtheria infection rates being up to 100% at some breeding sites. Some chicks had perished on hot days as they were still under full protection of their parent's body.

12 December 2015

Record-breaking African penguin dies

Pat the penguin. Photo credit: Living Coasts
UK - Living Coasts’ champion penguin has died. Pat, the oldest known female African penguin in the UK, celebrated her 37th birthday on 20 January this year. She was thought to have been the second-oldest penguin in Europe.

Pat, also known as number 1389, was euthanased by zoo vets due to advanced arthritis.

Living Coasts spokesperson Phil Knowling said, “Her quality of life had declined because of arthritis – the only thing to do was to put her to sleep.

03 December 2015

Antarctic Centre celebrates world's oldest little blue penguin

Danny and Toto
NEW ZEALAND - A sweet natured little blue penguin called Toto, who likes to wiggle and dance on her feet, will reach the grand age of 25 this weekend. She is believed to be the oldest little penguin in the world.

Hatched in captivity at Napier’s Marineland, Toto and several other penguins that were deemed unable to survive in the wild were brought to the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch in 2007 when Marineland was closing down.