Posted on 03/10/2012 by Phillip Island Nature Parks
No need for 50 Shades in penguin colony
They’re no taller than a carton of milk but Phillip Island’s little penguins are packing an enviable procreation punch – no raunchy reading required.
Scientists from Phillip Island Nature Parks have observed eggs in 25 to 50 per cent of burrows and officially declared the start to the little penguin breeding season. And at 33 centimetres tall the breeding behaviour of the world’s smallest penguin provides some big stats for human counterparts to measure up to.
In a 2005 Australian Study of Health and Relationships, human heterosexual couples who had been together more than a year reported they had sex on average 1.84 times a week. As any recent visitor to the Penguin Parade can attest, little penguins mate several times a night.
With an estimated 16,000 pairs in the colony, Phillip Island is in full mating merriment, but it’s not all smooth sailing in the love nest. Long term studies at Phillip Island Nature Parks have revealed an annual divorce rate between 18 and 50 per cent.
The breeding season typically extends to March with two eggs laid in each nest and parents sharing chick rearing duties. Chicks are fully grown and ready to head to sea between 7 and 11 weeks. On average, only 20 per cent of chicks will survive their first year with starvation the highest cause of mortality.
Little penguin research on Phillip Island is one of the longest continuous seabird studies in the world and has been instrumental in ensuring the survival of the island’s last remaining penguin colony.
Recent population studies reveal a near doubling of penguin numbers in the colony in the last 20 years, with estimates putting the population size at 32,000 in the 2010-11 breeding season.
About Phillip Island Nature Parks
Phillip Island Nature Parks is a not-for-profit organisation. Revenue generated through ecotourism, including the world-famous Penguin Parade, is invested into research, conservation and education programs.
Ms Danene Jones - Communications Executive
Tel: +613 5951 2825 Mobile: 0418 402 161 Email: email@example.com