Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Little Penguins

We had the chance to see Little Penguins, also known as Fairy Penguins or Blue Penguins. We saw them at a colony they have at Bicheno on the east coast of Tasmania. Apparently, penguins come back to the same colony where the males were born, and the females follow the males they mate with. Brothers, fathers and grandfathers end up nesting on the same turf they were born on. The colonies have been around hundreds of years, but unfortunately, some have been completely wiped out, by man or other predators. I read something in Australia that was very sad indeed - one night a pack of dogs wiped out all of the penguins in an entire colony - in a single night.

Cats are also big enough to take penguins. These penguins are mighty small, about the size of a human foot, and of course the babies are smaller.

There is a lot of hatred of cats in Tasmania, and greater Australia. Although this was hard to listen to, I can understand how and why this came to be. Dogs and cats, beloved pets back home, were foreign to Australia and when introduced by man had a profound impact on the local wildlife. Hardly fair to blame the cats or dogs and not the idiots that brought them, but so it goes. Feral cats are shot on sight and it is definately a place that you should have cats indoors or not at all. If you saw cats killing off little quolls and other marsupials, and penguins, etc it would be hard not to dislike them.

I do think some creative options could be used to protect penguin colonies. I don't see why a great pyrenees could not be trained to protect the colony from cats and other dogs. The local people do seem to be trying - they have a program of providing nest boxes and relocating (or more likely killing) predators.

The colony we got to see can be quite large, but we were there at the time of year when we did not see that many penguins. ou can't use flash and so only one of my photos came out - this is it. did get to hear the penguins at night, which was cool.

1 comment:

Cats said...

Penguins are pretty animals and so are cats and dogs ~ I hope means can be devised so that they may coexist in peace..I like your blog ~ it's very informative ~ keep up the good work..