Penguin paradise

By Jocelyn Watts

Braving icy winds and rain enroute to Penguin Island guaranteed plenty of room on the short ferry ride from Rockingham.

It was equally spacious on the island with only three other people making the trip that day. Even the fairy penguins seemed to have escaped the elements … but hiding during the day is their nature.

Arriving just before the 10.30am feeding session at the Penguin Island Discovery Centre, we were too late to see the shy birds in their natural habitat. The world’s smallest penguin spends most of its daylight hours at sea hunting or hidden away in burrows.

However, we did see the cute little birds in the discovery centre’s feeding area where the host helped guests thaw out with hot coffee before the penguins shuffled in for their morning feed of pilchards.

As they gulped down about a dozen pilchards each, the ranger said fairy penguins eat close to their own body weight, about 1kg, of fish at each meal, three times a day. In the wild, they eat more than 100 tonnes every year. The flightless penguin stands about 40cm tall and some live up to 20 years.

Penquin Island, accessed from Rockingham about 42km south of Perth, is home to Western Australia’s largest colony of fairy penguins. Guests can also explore the island and meet the occasional sea lion on the beach or visit the sea-bird breeding sites, which include pelicans, bridled terns and silver gulls.

A large colony of sea lions can be found on Seal Island, about 500 metres north of Penquin Island.
Penquin Island blog collage

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