Meet one of the world’s smallest penguins, the little penguin. The little penguin is an adorable species of penguin found mostly around the waters of Australia. The little penguin is also endangered, and a massive joint effort between the Australian government and conservation groups is under way in an attempt to save them.
The Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife has been a huge supporter of these efforts. While visiting Western Australia, FNPW asked if I would go over to Penguin Island to document some of the work being done. Little penguins on a gorgeous island in the Indian Ocean… how could I say no to that?
Welcome to Penguin Island, home to one of the largest colonies of little penguins as well as other seabirds and wildlife. It is simply spectacular! Penguin Island is a national park. So while people are encouraged to visit and enjoy the beautiful beaches, several parts of the island are off limits to protect the little penguins.
The work being done on Penguin Island is multifaceted. The first priority is to give the penguins a safe place to live and breed.
These nests are set up all along the island. During breeding season, males and females take turns protecting their young here. Small cameras are set up inside many of the nest to try to capture shots of hatchlings. Incubation is 35 days long.
Once a chick has hatched, the mom and dad take turns protecting it while the other goes out to sea in search of food. Under the cover of darkness, groups of the little penguins will come ashore. Since the penguins hide or are out to sea during the day, this is the best opportunity to see how large the colony is and how quickly it is growing.
Night time cameras have been set up throughout the park and record all night. The data is stored on servers and sifted through by volunteers to count the number of penguins and note the time and location.
The cameras are routinely cleaned and checked for sharpness and accuracy. Being surrounded by ocean, you can only imagine how often they need to be checked.
This is what the video recordings look like. Volunteers can access the server and count penguins any time from the comfort of their homes. So if you have even wanted to take an active role in helping an endangered species, now is your chance! If you are interested in volunteering, please visit: https://penguins.dpaw.wa.gov.au/. George Shedrawi is the project manager. He would be happy to answer all of your questions and get you involved!
A still from video showing a group of little penguins coming ashore.
There is one other way you can help save the little penguin. Right now, though the end of October, the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife is fundraising for an emergency project. The Manly colony, one of the last colonies of little penguins on mainland Australia, has been hurt badly after a string of fox attacks. Please consider making a contribution today by visiting: https://chuffed.org/project/manly-little-penguins.