25 February 2022

Thriving colony of little penguins at Batemans Bay given helping hand by wildlife lovers

| Albert McKnight
Start the conversation
Penguin chick at Snapper Island

Lisa O’Neill microchips a little penguin chick at Snapper Island in the Clyde Estuary. Photo: Eurobodalla Council.

Scientists, council and volunteers have joined forces to help make an island off Batemans Bay a safe place for little penguins to nest and raise their chicks.

For the last few years, Eurobodalla Shire Council’s sustainability team and its volunteers have kept invasive weeds down and removed marine debris at Snapper Island, which is about one kilometre off Corrigans Beach.

Seabird scientists Lisa O’Neill and Nicholas Carlile have also been helping to manage the penguin colony and have caught and microchipped the birds for the last two breeding seasons which will allow them to be tracked over time.

In good news for wildlife lovers, council’s supervisor of natural resources Heidi Thomson said the little penguins on Snapper Island appeared to be thriving.

“Last nesting season was a good one with many well-fed chicks fledging successfully,” she said.

Ms Thomson expected at least one-third of the penguin chicks that fledge from Snapper Island to return there to nest themselves once mature.

READ ALSO $30 million Sapphire eco-resort to put Batemans Bay ‘on the five-star map’

“The microchips allow us to monitor the number of returning birds and estimate the number of birds generally,” she said.

“Should numbers drop, that’s an indicator of something wrong at the colony and maybe within the estuary itself.

“It also means that if a Snapper Island penguin ends up at a different monitored colony, researchers there will let us know, providing important data on penguin dispersion.”

Ms Thomson said with the breeding season done, work will resume to clear invasive weeds and remove the harmful litter that washes into the estuary from the stormwater drains of nearby towns and villages.

The team will also install more artificial nesting boxes.

According to BirdLife Australia, the little penguin is the only species of penguin that breeds in Australia.

The penguins are eaten by introduced predators on land where their burrows are also trampled, while at sea they are susceptible to oil pollution, fish die-offs and entanglement in fishing nets.

READ ALSO Caterpillar who captured world’s attention now an Emperor

However, BirdLife says despite this, the total population is stable with about one million birds in the country.

To protect the sensitive ecosystem and breeding site, Snapper Island has a no landing policy. If you are interested in learning more about the penguin colony, Eurobodalla Council has more information on its website.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.