Saturday, 28 February 2009
Little Blue Penguin in the Whakatane River
Oops, just realised this is my first blog for 2009 and its nearly March already! This summer I've been really busy helping with wedding photography, painting and taking photos of course. Enough with the excuses.....
Earlier on in the month I got a text from my Aunt who was walking along the river edge near the Whakatane Heads. She told me of a penguin swimming near the boat ramp. When I got there I was fascinated to watch a little blue penguin chasing small fish, moving quickly along about an inch or two below the water without breaking the surface. He would get in amongst a school of herrings and then swim tight circles around them until he could snatch one up in his beak. Wonderful to watch in the water! I had to rush off way before I was finished watching him. The Little Blue Penguin, smallest penguin species in the world is quite common around our coastline. The next day I went back and sure enough he was there again. I watched him for a while then he swam to the boat ramp and made his way up the edge but when he began to walk it was obvious things weren't as they should be. He was favouring one leg hardly putting any weight on it and then he just rested while two boats were launched only feet away. I realised he may need medical attention so I grabbed a trout landing net from the back of the car and leaning down off the pier popped it over his head. I took him to the local Department of Conservation office and turned him over to Mike Jones. We checked out the injury to his leg and realised it was not a really recent injury and he appeared to be on the mend. But obviously the boat ramp was not the greatest environment as it was not without a number of risks to a penguin so it was decided he would be relocated out to Motuhora (Whale Island).
One of the local fisherman told me the bird had been seen hanging out in the river for about a week and was even seen up as far as the bridge which is about a mile from the rivermouth. As far as I know he got a ride with the D.O.C. officers in a boat that afternoon. Bon Voyage Little Blue!