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Posted on 12/04/2021 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

Phillip Island Nature Parks and Melbourne Zoo’s Marine Response Unit are responding to reports of Little Penguins washing up on Phillip Island and Victorian beaches after the weekend’s severe weather conditions.

Yesterday {Sunday 11 April}, Phillip Island Nature Parks rehabilitation facility received five underweight penguin chicks into their care.

Melbourne Zoo’s Marine Response Unit was able to rescue 13 of the distressed and injured Little Penguins yesterday and transport them back to Melbourne Zoo’s vet hospital. Sadly, six of those 13 have since died from injury and trauma. Melbourne Zoo’s veterinarian team will continue to care for the remaining Little Penguins and is working closely with Phillip Island Nature Parks on further rehabilitation of the penguins.

Phillip Island Nature Parks Research Technical Officer, Paula Wasiak, said that, while it was distressing to see fledgeling chicks in distress, this is a normal occurrence at this time of year.

“The weekend was the perfect storm of the great breeding season producing more chicks out at sea than normal, and wild weather,” Ms Wasiak said. “Only 18 per cent of chicks survive their first year of life, with starvation being the main cause of death as they are not taught by their parents to feed.”

Dr Peter Dann, Nature Parks Research Director has been monitoring the population for over 30 years.

“Little penguins are quite vulnerable in their first year. When they fledge at eight to eleven weeks old they are on their own and that inexperience can often result in mortality. This is part of the cycle of life for Little penguins and supports other animals in the ecosystem.

“The good news for the Phillip Island population is that breeding success is up,” said Dr Dann. “Long-term data indicates on average 0.95 chicks successfully fledge per breeding pair. Last breeding season we recorded 1.98 chicks per pair.”

• We thank the Phillip Island Community for your support and are reminded that this is a natural occurrence and part of the Island’s cycle of nature.

• The Nature Parks Conservation team asks that if you do find a sick or injured Little Penguin washed up on the beach between the hours of 7.30am and 4pm to call Phillip Island Nature Parks on 5951 2800 and after hours to contact Wildlife Victoria on 8400 7300.

• For all other penguins across Victoria people are asked to call Melbourne Zoo’s Marine Response Unit on 1300 245 678.

• You can also contribute to our monitoring by recording dead penguins and seabirds you find via the online portal at