Apparently the area that I live in has caught the attention of international media. Why? Because of a little penguin, on a big journey.
Three days ago, a young Emperor Penguin landed on Peka Peka Beach for a rest, a few kilometres from my place, Now, it’s really not surprising that this wee fella wanted to stop fo a rest. After all, he has travelled over 3,200 kilometres from his home in Antarctica. Now, that is a hell of a journey for a 10-month-old.
The incredible thing, is that the last Emperor Penguin that was sighted here, was in the deep south of New Zealand in 1967. I guess that this wee fella was much more adventurous. And if you are going to come to New Zealand, why not come to an amazing part of it. But can you imagine what it’s like for this penguin at the moment? This is most likely the first time it has ever felt sand, or the air and waters as warm as they are. The first time it has ever encountered humans, or dogs, or probably even boats. Our conservation department has decided that it would be too much of a traumatic journey to transport this Emperor back to Antarctica at this time of year. So in the meantime, our little coastal community has a guest staying.
Emperor Penguins are amazing animals in terms of communities, parenting, mating, and hunting. They do everything in packs, and groups. They journey across the ice together, and they coordinate their hunting. The males look after the eggs once the females lay them, and they mate for a year and then switch. In a way, they are very much like humans. Apart from the males looking after the eggs.
Which makes me wonder what this little nomadic penguin was thinking when it decided to swim to warmer shores. What is the real story behind the journey? Was the penguin out hunting with his pack, and got lost? Did a big nasty seal interfere and scare the penguin, bearing in mind that this penguin is not very old. I think it would be wonderful to be able to communicate with these animals on some level to actually find out what their stories are. Especially the story of a traveller like this one. Could be an awfully good little children’s book series.
And just in case anyone is really interested in the annual cycle of an Emperor Penguin – here is an image care of Wikipedia.