Hundreds of little blue penguins have washed up on the shores of New Zealand amid an ocean heatwave. The poor birds are members of the smallest penguin species in the world, and unfortunately, their populations have been declining in recent years.
Source: RNZ / Youtube
In recent weeks, hundreds of blue penguins washed up on the Ninety Mile Beach, located in the North Islands of New Zealand. The beach stretches 55 miles long and is a popular tourist sight. Now, beachgoers are finding hundreds of the little blue penguins or kororā (their Māori name), according to Radio New Zealand.
Little blue penguins are only 10 inches long and weigh about 2 pounds. Experts say that the sightings are evidence of a larger issue of bird deaths that have been happening around the world caused by warming ocean temperatures.
A local man, Vaughn Turner, created a checklist of birds that he spotted as he walked on a trail at the end of May. Radio New Zealand reported that his wildlife documenting soon took a depressing turn. He began to notice dead blue penguins as he walked along the beach.
“There were quite a few which seemed odd, so I thought I’d start counting them to see how many there were.”
For three days, he counted penguins.
“On the first day 75 dead penguins over a distance of 10 kilometers and then day two, walking north, counted them again, that morning I counted 71.”
“The third day, I counted about 59 dead birds.”
RNZ reported that Turner estimated there would have been more than 200 each day during his 18.6-mile walk (30 kilometers).
“Some of them are up in the dune toe, or up in the dunes. It was well above the high tide marks, they’ve probably been there a while.
“A few looked like they’ve been predated on but many of the birds I found were at or below high tide, so they, I assume were fairly fresh.”
This is not the first time that these tiny blue penguins have been found dead in large numbers. The kororā prefer to find their food in cold water, but when the temperatures are as high as they have been, this affects their food scavenging.
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