Posted on 07/02/2020 by Phillip Island Nature Parks
Meet the team: Paula Wasiak
For Nature Parks Research Technical Officer, Paula Wasiak, penguins are all in a day’s work. Paula and her team coordinate and conduct the fieldwork for penguin research projects. This largely includes monitoring penguins in their burrows.
- “During the peak of the breeding season, I check over 150 burrows a day. We monitor the weight, stage and health of the colony and collect different biological samples.
- Back in the office, we crunch the numbers and correct lots of data.
- I also train staff, students and volunteers in penguin handling, and assist in running oiled wildlife training courses.
- What you love most about your job? That I am actively doing something positive for the natural world. In the 10 years that I’ve been here, I’ve seen the amazing outcomes from the work done and I’m proud to be part of positive change. I can’t save the world, but I can improve my small corner of it!
- What do you love most about penguins? They are tough! People often mistake them as being cute and cuddly, when in fact they are little balls of muscles that won’t hesitate to nip you. (and occasionally, take some skin off your hands). They are also an important part of the ecosystem – they are a bio-indicator species and can give us insights into the health of our oceans.
- Funny and memorable moments? One story that makes me giggle (although, our OHS coordinator may not agree) is the time I had a volunteer ask me if he should check a penguin burrow even if a snake is sticking out of it – I assured him that no, we can most definitely will skip will that burrow! Working in the colony at night is particularly memorable, just watching the penguins and shearwaters come in and being greatly outnumbered by wildlife. I get to see echidnas squeezing their way into penguin burrows, Sea eagles flying above me and have I mentioned that I work with penguins? It doesn’t get much better than that!