Mystery surrounds penguin deaths



OCEAN Grove residents made some heartbreaking and mysterious discoveries recently, finding several dead fairy penguins washed up on local beaches.
Simon Jackson saw eight dead penguins on 31 March as he was walking on the beach at Collendina, as well as one that was barely alive.
“By the time I got him out the little thing was exhausted,” he said.
“He lasted about a minute in my T-shirt and then he died.”
Simon said it was very upsetting and he couldn’t fathom how the birds had died. He found a further four on 1 April.
“None of the penguins looked harmed or sick in anyway,” he said.
“They were all fat, round little things like fairy penguins usually are.”
Maddie Glynn, from Barwon Coast, was also at a loss as to what caused the penguins’ death.
She said a larger than average breeding season at nearby colonies could have displaced penguins or deprived them of food.
“If there’s a large population it could well be that the weaker ones that have not made it,” she said.
Maddie encouraged locals to call their local wildlife shelter if they find a penguin struggling nearby.
“The key is for everybody on the beach to keep their dogs on a leash,” she said.
Phillip Island Nature Park spokesperson Roland Pick confirmed the island had had a large breeding season this year.
“We’ve not had any come up here,” he said.
“It’s certainly very surprising and concerning.”
He said the park’s research department would look into the dead penguins.
The incident comes after 30 penguins mysteriously washed up in Altona 2014.
Anyone who spots a dead penguin at Barwon Heads or Ocean Grove can call Barwon Coast on 5254 1118. Anyone who finds a live penguin in distress can call Leopold Wildlife Shelter and Rescue on 0409 002 258.