Researchers have rugged up and headed off the coast of Batemans Bay to spend nights monitoring Little Penguins on Snapper Island.
This Spring, more intense monitoring efforts will take place as part of a new conservation research initiative.
Eurobodalla Shire Council and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) are working together to ensure the penguin colony is better understood and breeding success is maximised into the future.
Senior DPE scientist Nicholas Carlile and his team of penguin researchers have been working with Council’s environment team over the past few years.
Together, they have monitored marine debris and restored penguin habitat by removing weeds, replanting native vegetation, and added artificial burrows to create more nesting opportunities.
Mr Carlile said researchers will be moving about the island after sunset until early hours of the morning.
“We will be working at night on the island to enable a full count of the population,” he said.
“A GPS tracking study to look at the movements of the birds may also be carried out.
“While lighting of the birds at night is not recommended, lights will be seen on the island as researchers move about doing their studies.”
Council’s invasive species supervisor Paul Martin said the research will help better understand the conservation status of the species in NSW.
He said research will also capture the penguins’ movements in relation to available food resources and potential threats to their survival.
“We are so lucky to have Snapper Island here in the Bay; all our efforts out there appear to be increasing the breeding success of the island’s Little Penguins,” Mr Martin said.
“This increased monitoring will really help us to understand population trends and how to best tailor habitat restoration efforts to benefit these cute little guys.”
Mr Martin reminded the public Snapper Island was a no-go zone.
“The general public must adhere to Council’s no landing policy as many of the penguin burrows are hidden under a dense carpet of knee-high vegetation,” he said.
“The penguins can very easily be trodden on and injured or killed.
“Visitation can also lead to nest abandonment, so it’s super important we keep disturbance to an absolute minimum.”
The penguin monitoring on Snapper Island is part of the Seabirds to Seascapes research program, funded by the NSW Environmental Trust.
Research was being led by key scientists from the Department of Planning and Environment, Macquarie University and Taronga Conservation Society.
More information on the research program can be found at www.dpie.nsw.gov.au
Volunteers are welcome to participate in Council’s habitat restoration activities which occur outside of the nesting season. If you are interested, contact Paul Martin on 44741000
Above: The research team huddle for a quick photo as they begin monitoring Little Penguins on Snapper Island.
Above: A Little Penguin resting in the grass.
Above: Little Penguin mum and bub in one of the artificial burrows.