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Little penguins and the impact of COVID-19 restrictions

The COVID-19 restrictions offered a unique chance to study how nightly visitation might influence the penguins’ behaviour at the Penguin Parade. Studies have shown that shipping traffic, not visitors, affected penguins most.

The slowdown in human activity (known as anthropause), such as marine traffic, was also thought to help marine life by reducing pollution and disturbances. Even with a significant decrease in visitors to the Parade, sometimes none at all, the penguins' behaviour remained unchanged. Their diet, breeding success and where they searched for food stayed the same during restrictions. Surprisingly, maritime traffic didn't decrease either during restrictions. However, looking at multiple years, we discovered that more shipping traffic lowers how well the penguins hunt for food. Our findings indicate that environmental changes have a bigger impact on penguins than short-term human activity changes like restrictions. Our long-term data further reassures us that well-managed visitation doesn't affect our little penguins at the Penguin Parade. Read the full article here.

By Andre Chiaradia, Senior Scientist

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