Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A dead penguin washed ashore

The bodies of seabirds are often found on Phillip Island beaches, the remains of which we always check for metal bands on legs or flippers, or, in the case of penguins, a microchip over their shoulder. These bands and microchips are inscribed with a unique number, aimed at tracking the movements of birds and to gather information about their habits and lifespan. The Phillip Island Nature Park has a dedicated team of marine biologists who welcome information from the public regarding these bands and microchips.

Today, a Little Penguin (commonly called a fairy penguin ) was washed ashore, but there was no ID. Likewise, we saw a mutton bird skeleton. A seal, found further down the beach was putrid, so we kicked sand over it to lessen the unpleasant smell. Sometimes the seal is a large male, with fighting injuries; other times dead pups are washed up on beaches. These youngsters have usually been weaned too early and are not strong enough to fend for themselves. Therefore, they starve, drown or are attacked by sharks. At Seal Rocks, Phillip Island, 5000 seal pups are born every year, so there are bound to be casualties.

From time to time we see seals fishing offshore, and sometimes they come up on to the beach to rest on the sand. People are advised to stay at laest 5 m away and avoid stressing the seal.

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