The Penguin Parade

Friday November 2, 2007 (Day 17)

The Penguins Parade

Phillip Island is home to a large colony of little penguins that make an appearance on Summerland Beach each day at dusk. This race up the beach from the ocean to the safety of their burrows has become known as the popular Penguin Parade.

We watched the parade from the viewing stands and observation boardwalks at Phillip Island Nature Park. Built to protect the penguin´s habitat, these viewing areas also ensure that the 500,000 visitors that attend the event each year all get a good look at the penguins.

Approximately 26,000 little penguins live in the waters around Phillip Island, 4,500 of which have their burrows around Summerland Beach on the far south-western point of the Island. The little penguins are native to Australia and are the smallest of their species, standing at a mere 33 centimeters. They return to their burrows each evening to rest or, in the breeding season from August to March, to feed their young. They leave their burrows again about an hour before sunrise and spend the day in the sea swimming up to 100 kilometers to catch their daily ration of fish.

You can see the penguins every day of the year and we where advised to bring warm clothing, as the evening was cold and the weather unpredictable.

We took the "Ultimate Penguin Experience": The best penguin viewing in Australia! We had experienced rangers provide extensive commentary to us as we sat on the secluded beach waiting for the penguins. We where provided earphones so we could listen tot eh ranger tell us the story of the penguins.

The Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor) is the smallest species of penguin. It breeds along the entire coastline of New Zealand, the Chatham Islands, Tasmania, and southern Australia. They have several common names. In Australia, they are often referred to as Fairy Penguins because of their tiny size.

In New Zealand, they are called Little Blue Penguins, or just Blue Penguins, owing to their indigo-blue plumage color; the New Zealand Maori call them Korora

Typically growing to 43 centimeters (16 in) tall and weighing about one kilogram (2.2 pounds), they live year-round in large colonies, with each individual breeding pair forming a burrow in which to raise their chicks (of which two are born at a time). They feed by hunting fish, squid, and other small sea animals, for which they travel and dive quite extensively. Little penguins, like most seabirds, have a long lifespan. The average for the species is 6.5 years, but flipper ringing experiments have recorded individuals that have lived for over 20 years.[2]

Little Penguins typically return to their colonies to feed their chicks at dusk; the birds will tend to come ashore in small groups to provide some defense against predators which might pick off individuals one by one. In Australia, the strongest colonies are on cat-free and fox-free islands. They did not allow pictures as the flashes from the camera will blind the little penguins.

They did not allow pictures as the flashes from the camera will blind the little penguins.