On April 11, hundreds of fledgling little penguin chicks were reported washed up on Victorian beaches after severe weather conditions.
Phillip Island Nature Parks Research Technical Officer, Paula Wasiak, said that, while it was upsetting to see fledgling chicks in distress, this is a normal occurrence at this time of year.
“The weekend was the perfect storm of the great breeding season producing more chicks out at sea than normal, and wild weather,” Ms Wasiak said. “Only 18 per cent of chicks survive their first year of life, with starvation being the main cause of death as they are not taught by their parents to feed.”
But for three rescued chicks, a few weeks of care at the Phillip Island Nature Parks Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre by dedicated staff saw them released back into the wild this week.
“Once the birds had gained enough weight, and were able to pass the ‘swim-test’ to ensure that they had reached the all-important waterproof stage, they were ready for release this week,” said Jodi Bellett, Wildlife Rehabilitation Ranger with Phillip Island Nature Parks.
“It is so pleasing to see these little penguins getting a second chance after their rough start.”
The birds were microchipped before being released, which helps Phillip Island Nature Parks to build a history of individual penguins and track any trends across the colony.