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July Meeting - Penguins

Wednesday Jul 11 7:44 pm

Duration: 1.30 hours

Presented by: Jo Rapley

Summary: Hello everyone, please join me for a talk about some birds that I’m sure you have not seen a lot of around Darwin - penguins!

Penguins are one of the most charismatic birds on the planet, but many species are in peril. Out of the 18 species listed on the IUCN Red List, 5 are classified as ‘Vulnerable’ and 5 as ‘Endangered’ and many penguin populations are decreasing.

In this talk, I will introduce some interesting aspects of penguin biology and the threats facing penguin species worldwide. I will then discuss in more detail the endangered Yellow-eyed Penguin or Hoiho (Megadyptes antipodes). These penguins breed on the South Island of mainland New Zealand, but between 1996 and 2016 the population there declined by 76%. They are also found on Stewart Island, and the sub-Antarctic Campbell and Auckland Islands, which are believed to be the ‘stronghold’ of the species, with around 60% of the total population of 1700 breeding pairs, but there has never been a comprehensive survey of this area. In late 2015, I was lucky enough to join a small team of staff and volunteers from the New Zealand Department of Conservation on an expedition to the Auckland Islands (465 km south of NZ) in a 25 m yacht to survey the Yellow-eyed Penguin population. I will share some of the results of this survey, as well as some stories and photos of this beautiful and little-known World Heritage Area.

Biography: I’ve spent much of my time traipsing around the world pursuing my passion for penguins. It has been a glamorous life, and I’ve enjoyed perpetually smelling like fish and guano and being scarred by bites, bruised by flippers and infested with penguin fleas. Not to mention chasing penguins through suspected minefields and the time that I ate a penguin egg for breakfast. If that doesn’t make me sound credible, I also have an Honours degree in Antarctic Studies and wrote my thesis on diet analysis studies of Royal Penguins (i.e. I spent a lot of time with frozen penguin vomit). I was a penguin keeper for several years working with rescued Little Penguins in Christchurch, where I designed penguin shoes, perfected salmon milkshake recipes and taught lazy penguins to swim. I have been a volunteer research assistant for penguin and albatross surveys in the Falkland Islands and in southern Chile and attended several International Penguin Conferences.

This FREE event is organised by the NT Field Naturalists' Club and is open to members of the public. We hope to see you there.


CDU Casuarina. Room BLUE 2.1.51

Long: 130.871353 Lat: -12.371845