Mohua Blue Penguin Trust

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New Trust formed

New Trust formed

7 June 2019 - 'Penguin fever' spreads in Golden Bay to stop decline of little blues. A charitable trust has been established to protect the penguin population. Article by Cherie Sivignon published on Stuff.co.nz.

 

https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/113302547/penguin-fever-spreads-in-golden-bay-to-stop-decline-of-little-blues

 

A charitable trust has been established to protect the little blue penguin population in Golden Bay.

 

The world's smallest penguin has been in decline in the area, a trend the Mohua (Golden Bay) Blue Penguin Trust aims to halt. Filmmaker Dame Gaylene Preston is patron of the new trust, which had its first official meeting on Thursday.

 

"It's a real privilege to be invited to represent the Mohua (Golden Bay) Blue Penguin Trust," Preston said. "Clearly, the extreme drop in our little blue penguin population in the Bay is of concern to many."


Patron Dame Gaylene Preston, left, with education officer Heather Wallace, says it is a privilege to be invited to represent the Mohua (Golden Bay) Blue Penguin Trust.
Patron Dame Gaylene Preston, left, with education officer Heather Wallace, says it is a privilege to be invited to represent the Mohua (Golden Bay) Blue Penguin Trust.

The trust grew out of the concern of Rangihaeata resident Cynthia McConville for the flightless seabirds after seven were killed at her local beach in September.

 

"They're in decline," McConville said of the penguins. "We don't want to lose them. They're gorgeous."

 

There had been "amazing" support from people in the Bay to protect the penguins. Since the end of January, volunteers had been helping to construct nesting boxes for the penguins with almost 30 installed at Rangihaeata and another 30 around Tata Beach, Ligar Bay and Pōhara.

"Penguin fever has spread across the Bay," McConville said. "We need the assistance of our community to protect, enhance and manage ... our little blues here in Golden Bay."


Alastair Judkins and his penguin detector dog, Mena - photo Matthew Tso/Stuff
Alastair Judkins and his penguin detector dog, Mena - photo Matthew Tso/Stuff

Though often called little blue penguins, the birds' official name is little penguin or kororā. They are roughly the height of a rugby ball and weigh about 1kg.

 

McConville said the trust would cover the coastal marine area of Golden Bay between and including the Abel Tasman and Kahurangi national parks.

 

Using a grant from the Golden Bay Community Trust, the penguin trust planned to bring Kaikōura Ocean Research Institute operations manager Alastair Judkins and his penguin detection dog Mena to the bay for three weeks in August to undertake a survey of the penguin population.

 

"Once we know where we've got them, we can better protect them," McConville said. As well as undertaking a survey for the trust, it was hoped Judkins would visit schools in the Bay.

 

"We want to raise awareness through education," McConville said.

The penguin trust planned to monitor the penguin population including their presence or absence from burrows, their eggs, their chicks and when they were moulting. "We have some exciting things in the pipeline."


By day, little blue penguins tended to be out at sea, fishing and feeding. They generally came ashore at night. Dogs posed one of the biggest threats to the little creatures and McConville urged dog walkers to be aware of potential for penguins to be present, particularly at sunrise and sunset.

 

"To be careful with their dogs. I would have a preference that dogs were on a lead," she said. June, July and August were critical months for the penguins.

 

"Now, they're paired up, probably in their burrows sorting out their nesting sites," McConville said. "Some could have already have laid eggs and be sitting on them."


 

page last edited 21 July 2020