200 penguins chipped in monitoring project


More than 200 little blue penguins have been microchipped as part of a monitoring project at Blue Penguins Pukekura.
Taiaroa Head manager of operations Hoani Langsbury said staff had microchipped about half the adult penguins that were coming ashore at Pilots Beach and were now focusing on tagging chicks before they fledged.
The chipping would allow them to monitor the birds when they came back to raise their own chicks in about two years, as well as seeing where they chose to nest and how many of them returned, Mr Langsbury said.
He estimated there were about 200 breeding pairs of little blue penguins at Taiaroa Head and about 300-400 chicks had been born this season.
Once the chicks fledged at eight weeks old, they often went to sea and did not return until they came back to have their own chicks in two years’ time, he said.
While penguins often returned to within a few metres of where they were born, he had heard of some residents finding penguins as far down the peninsula as Portobello.
The needles used during the microchipping process would allow the scientists involved in the project – who are on-site four days a week _ to do genetic studies and also help the staff at Taiaroa Head to better understand how to help their penguin population.
The project received $20,000 from the Otago Participatory Science Platform.