Stranded Rockhopper penguin rescued

February 06, 2012 by dyertrust

The Dyer Island Conservation Trust was alerted of a stranded penguin in Pearly Beach (27 Jan). This is unfortunately not an unusual call, but this time it was a very unusual penguin! Instead of being an African penguin from nearby Dyer Island, this was a Rockhopper penguin. It is unusual but not rare to see these penguins wash up on our beaches, and this particular individual was in the process of moulting.

Moulting occurs every year, and it is during this time that penguins lose their feathers and regrow them for the next year. It can make the penguins look a bit sickly, but in fact it is during this time that most penguins are at their most robust as they binge eat before their moulting period. This is because during their moult, they can not feed as they lack the protective waterproof feathers.

Rockhoppers are found throughout the southern hemisphere in sub antarctic and temperate climates, from the Prince Edward Island near Marion Island all the way along Argentina, Chile, and New Zealand. Like most species of penguin, they are experiencing a decline in population numbers, but are still at roughly 1 million pairs worldwide (not like our African penguins that are only at 22 000 pairs!). ”

(Thanks to Volkswagen that we have a car we can use to collect our valuable seabirds)

Michelle Wcisel (Marine Biologist)