RE: Gentoo penguin in Tassie

Subject: RE: Gentoo penguin in Tassie
From: "R Clarke" <>
Date: Wed, 24 May 2006 15:45:40 +1000
Hi all,

Don't jump on a plane just yet! The penguin was moved because of the risk of dog attack. According to the article below, 1/2 an hour after being released at a safe site near Hobart it swam out to sea.


Rohan Clarke

Giant penguin wanders in from the cold
IT is not every day a sub-Antarctic penguin standing almost a metre high takes a wrong turn and comes ashore near Hobart.

But this gentoo penguin waddled ashore at Conningham at the weekend -- a long, long way from home.

Gentoo penguins breed on sub-Antarctic islands and on the Antarctic Peninsula. Their closest breeding ground to Tasmanian is 1500km away on Macquarie Island.

A walker on the Conningham foreshore on Sunday spotted the penguin, which is about 80 to 90cm high, and contacted wildlife authorities. Marine biologist Rosemary Gales said it was a rare visitor.

"These really are rare in our waters -- we've seen only two [in Tasmania] over the last few decades," said Dr Gales, from the Biodiversity Conservation Branch of the Department of Primary Industries and Water.

She said the stretch of foreshore where the penguin was spotted was popular among dog walkers, so a wildlife team took the penguin from Conningham and released it at a safer spot south of Hobart.

The penguin, which was in good health and condition, was released on Monday.

"It preened on the beach for half-an-hour and then went back to sea," Dr Gales said.

It was hoped the bird would safely make its way back south, she said.

"Ideally, we just leave them well alone, but in this case we needed to take it to a safer location because it was in danger of being impacted by people or dogs."

The bird's age was unclear, although it was thought to be a young bird which was roaming the southern seas.

"When they are young, they spend several years at sea before coming back to land," Dr Gale said.

"But this one has ventured a bit further north than is typical."

Gentoo penguins are the least abundant of the penguins found on the sub-Antarctic islands, with a total breeding population of about 314,000 pairs.

There are about 5000 breeding pairs on Macquarie Island.

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