Little penguin breeding boom
Phillip Island’s (Millowl) little penguins experienced a breeding boom, with around 24,000 chicks hatching over the past season. Phillip Island Nature Parks penguin specialist Dr Andre Chiaradia attributes the boom both to favourable conditions triggering the penguins to breed earlier and ‘double clutching’, where up to 2% of older adult penguins breed twice or more in the same season.
Environmental changes, including rising ocean temperatures in Bass Strait have seen penguin prey species, such as sardine and anchovy, arrive earlier at the penguins’ feeding grounds which benefit the penguins greatly. And, it is thought that the colony's older penguins, aware that their lives are coming to an end, are responding to these favourable environmental conditions by focusing their energy on breeding instead of survival to give their population a boost.
While the rise in global temperature may have been of benefit to Phillip Island’s (Millowl) little penguins over the past season, it is likely that Bass Strait will become warmer and warmer, and there will be an ecological tipping point which will see the penguins ecosystem unable to cope with such rapid environmental change. “Our penguins are doing well, but we have to do everything in our power to make them resilient in the face of inevitable further increases in ocean temperature”, Dr Andre Chiaradia.
Read more here > 'Warming sparks penguin breeding boom but experts sound note of caution' - Sydney Morning Herald.