Marine Bird Spotlight - Little Blue Penguin

These are the world’s smallest penguin measuring in at around 25cm tall and weighing in between 1kg – 1.5kgs. They are known by many names, most commonly referred to as blue penguins, little penguin and little blue penguin. They are found around most of New Zealand’s coastline and also southern Australia.

Blue Penguin

You can identify these penguins quite easily as their plumage is blue with a white underbelly.

Little Blue Penguins like to forage out to sea (Up to 25km offshore and up to 70km from their colony) during the day where they are hunting for small fish, crustaceans and squid, they return back to land under the cover of darkness and live underground in burrows, in man-made structures or under buildings even.

Penguin Blue 1

Around the age of 2-3 years old is when these penguins reach breeding age. Two eggs are generally laid between the months of August to November in their burrows. The adults will take turns to stay with the chicks not leaving them alone for the first 3 weeks, then both adults can go out to sea to forage. It is around the 8 week period that the chicks are ready to fledge. It is then that they are independent and the adults are able to stock up on food before they begin their annual moult (shed their feathers so they can grow another waterproof coat) which usually last up to 2 weeks. During this time the adults are not able to head out to sea to feed and can be particularly vulnerable as they are unable to swim and also to any predators that are around.

Life expectancy of the Little Blue Penguins is between 6-7 years however individuals have been known the live as long as 25 years old.

Little Blue Penguin 2

Main threats to these penguins are likely to be dogs, cats, ferrets and stoats. Here are a few tips from the Dept of Conservation on how you can help out these penguins:

How to make little penguins safer:

A scruffy penguin is probably moulting, not sick:

There is a small breeding colony that exists near the Kaikoura Coastguard building in South Bay, Kaikoura. Volunteers have built artificial burrows and installed them underneath for these penguins to nest in at night. These penguins can also be found nesting in the surrounding area.

Little Blue Penguin in Kaikoura

There is some great work being done by the team at K.O.R.I (Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute) with research and protection of the Little Blue Penguins in Kaikoura. Check out this link for some more information on what they do and how you can sponsor a Little Blue.

 

This week Kaikōura really lived up to its reputation of being a marine mecca, with a wide variety of marine mammals sighted in abundance on our tours! We saw a lot of large transient Sperm Whales visiting our Coast to indulge in the nutrient rich waters of the Hikurangi Trench, as well as Spotty Tail! A semi-residential Sperm Whale who we’ve been seeing for a while now.

We’ve also seen a great number of Pilot Whales over the week, on Tuesday we saw 50+ and then on Thursday we saw 150+! A couple of stray Humpback Whales have also been hanging around Kaikōura, which we don’t usually get to see in November, but we’re guessing they’re just enjoying the Kaikōura Canyon too much to leave!

Dolphin varieties we saw on our tours included the usual suspects, the acrobatic Duskies and endangered Hectors, and this week we saw a pod of 20+ Bottlenose. As well as seeing the smallest of the dolphin species, the Hector, we also spotted the largest – the Orca. That makes two weeks in a row of Orca sighting!

On Tuesday, the 14th of November which marked exactly 1 year on from when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck which raised our coastline and left our boats on dry land, we celebrated our official marina opening. Thank you to everyone’s support and well wishes over the past year, each word of encouragement has been truly appreciated.

ROAD ACCESS UPDATE

There is a possibility of short delays with it being 30km/hour through parts of the route. Check the NZTA website for road updates before traveling. INLAND ROUTE 70 IS OPEN 24/7.

KAIKOURA BUSINESS UPDATE

Kaikōura is open for business. For latest updates on accommodation, restaurant and retail information please contact the team at the Kaikōura I-Site who will be able to help you find what suits your needs during your stay in Kaikōura. 

ORGANISED TRANSPORT OPTIONS FROM CHRISTCHURCH

Hasslefree ToursCanterbury Leisure Tours & Kaikoura Express have daily services from Christchurch to Kaikōura with a return service from Christchurch. Kiwi Experience now have the option of a day tour out of Christchurch for their travellers. Intercity Bus also provides a bus service between Christchurch and Kaikoura return.

Progress on the work being done on the roads (along with harbour repairs) can be found on the dedicated Kaikoura Earthquake Response page provided by the team at NZTA. This page is updated weekly on Fridays. Work is also underway on the railway network, please be aware and take care when using rail crossings.

The team at Whale Watch Kaikoura.