By LISA GOODMAN


Photo: Flickr.com/Jeremycg
An oil covered penguin at a rehabilitation facility in New Zealand, following the October 5 oil spill. Photo: flickr.com/Jeremycg

On October 5, New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty was the site of the worst oil spill in the country’s history. After a cargo ship crashed into an offshore reef, the oil it was carrying spilled and polluted the ecosystem. The oil harmed animals such as the Little Blue Penguin and the already-endangered New Zealand dotterel. Whales, seals and dolphins are also at risk from the spill.

To see how you can help out a penguin with continued relief efforts, check out our article, Little Blue Penguins Need Sweaters @ www.indykids.org.

This little blue penguin is carrying materials home to build a nest burrow. Photo: flickr.com/Threefishsleeping
This little blue penguin is carrying materials home to build a nest. Their home is also called a burrow. Photo: flickr.com/Threefishsleeping

DID YOU KNOW?

  • In Australia, Little Blue Penguins are called “Fairy Penguins” because they are so small.  At adulthood, Little Blue Penguins are 12-13 inches tall.
  • Adult penguins go on long journeys out in the ocean each day to hunt for sea creatures such as fish and squid.
  • Little Blue Penguins come home at dusk to feed their young. They try to swim ashore in large groups to protect themselves from predators.
  • These tiny penguins call coastal New Zealand and the southern coast of Australia, home.
  • In Australia, these fairy penguins are often preyed upon by animals such as cats, foxes and giant lizards; so wildlife conservationists are trying different experiments to help protect their Little Penguin colonies. One technique involves using Maremma Sheepdogs to scare away predators. Residents of Sydney, Australia volunteer their time to protect the penguins from creatures in the night.

Try this Geography Exercise!

The red-shaded areas on this map show the natural habitat of the Little Blue Penguin in the South Pacific. Can you name the countries shown on this map? Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The red-shaded areas on this map show the natural habitat of the Little Blue Penguin in the South Pacific. Can you name the countries shown on this map? Map is courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons.

Go to Interactive World Map @ maps.nationalgeographic.com.

Can you find the country of New Zealand on this interactive world map? What are the names of the two islands that make up New Zealand?

Name one city in Australia where Fairy Penguins nest.

Now zoom in to the towns and bodies of water along the coastline. Try to find the places that were mentioned in this article!

IndyKids- Little Blue Penguins- wikimediacommons- JJHarris
In Oamaru, New Zealand Little Blue Penguin families like this one leave their nests each morning for a fishing expedition under the ocean! Photo: Wikimedia Commons/JJHarris