New Zealand: "180 Little penguins dead on the country's beaches"

Veterinarians and scholars are transferring the poor blue penguins to the laboratories, to understand what killed them: the first theories spoke of a virus, but the disturbing reality is that perhaps the penguins are dead of hunger

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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New Zealand: "180 Little penguins dead on the country's beaches"

Little penguins massacre in New Zealand, over 180 found dead washed ashore on the beaches of the North Island. The causes of the death of these small animals are still unknown. Veterinarians and scholars are transferring the poor blue penguins to the laboratories, to understand what killed them: the first theories spoke of a virus, but the disturbing reality is that perhaps the penguins are dead of hunger.

The difficulty in finding food obviously lies in causes in which man is linked: climate change, global warming and intensive fishing. Graeme Taylor, researcher with the New Zealand Department of Conservation, explained: "All the bodies were found to be super underweight.

These birds should weigh between 800 and 1,000 grams, but they weighed about half." Veterinarians and scholars are transferring the poor blue penguins to the laboratories, to understand what killed them: the first theories spoke of a virus, but the disturbing reality is that perhaps the penguins are dead of hunger

Little penguins

It is widespread from the south-western coasts of Australia to the Chatham Islands of New Zealand.

Accidental specimens have also been occasionally observed along the coasts of Chile. It feeds mainly on fish. It is the only living species of the genus Eudyptula. Those of the Australian lineage will swim together in a large group after dusk and walk along the shore to reach their nesting sites.

This may be an effective predator avoidance strategy by traveling in a large group simultaneously. This has not been seen by those of the New Zealand lineage. Overall, little penguin populations in New Zealand have been decreasing.

Some colonies have become extinct, and others continue to be at risk. Some new colonies have been established in urban areas. Protestors have opposed the development of a marina at Kennedy Point, Waiheke Island in New Zealand for the risk it poses to little penguins and their habitat.

Protesters claimed that they exhausted all legal means to oppose the project and have had to resort to occupation and non-violent resistance. Several arrests have been made for trespassing.