26 Oct 2017

Keeping kororā safe in the city

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 1:40 pm on 26 October 2017
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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Can penguins and humans co-exist? Specifically the world's smallest penguin - the little blue penguin or kororā.

Wellington Councillor Peter Gilberd is leading the charge to protect the habitat of little blue penguins so it's not destroyed by urban development.

He's the city's scientist and has just helped set up an initiative between developers and researchers, such as those at Te Papa, to enhance the lives of kororā in the capital. 

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Photo: Chris Coad

The Kororā is found only in New Zealand and the southern parts of Australia.

There are two subspecies: the Australian one, which also lives around Dunedin and Oamaru and the New Zealand sub-species which lives around the rest of New Zealand and the Chatham Islands.

Gilberd says they are “literally everywhere” in the capital.

“They’re in the harbour, around the edges of the harbour on Somes Island and on the southern coast people don’t know that they’re literally everywhere around us on this coast line.”

Kororā are great swimmers can have a range of up to 200 km.

“They like the cover of darkness, they’re out at dawn, they’re back at dusk. Out all day catching little fish, catching squid and catching crustaceans,” he says.  

The best way to protect them in urban environments, he says, is to create habitat, create dedicated, fenced off spaces, discourage them from crossing the road and reduce predation.

Kororā penguins

Kororā penguins Photo: Dr John Cockrem

“Kororā are on the nest or in their space about 9 months of year … now the young have hatched if you’re on the road at dawn or dusk watch out for them the young ones will never have seen a car in their lives.”

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