Penguins have been getting the blues in Brighton.
Man's best friend is proving to be the worst nightmare for
colonies of little blue penguins, whose survival is being
threatened by repeated dog attacks.
The penguins had recently been returning to the area to nest
after an absence of 30 years, Steph Young, of Brighton
environmental group Big Rock Protect Our Penguins, said this
The group was established three years ago to support the
recolonisation of the coast by little blue penguins.
However, the small size and vulnerability of the birds made
them easy prey, Ms Young said.
''We had five penguins nesting around Ocean View last year
and another five at Barneys Island. But, they are under
threat from dogs.
''Dogs love to chase things and we're appealing to people on
the beach to put their dogs on a lead.
''The local shop owner has seen a dog coming across the road
with a penguin in its mouth.''
Blue penguins begin their breeding season in May, with
nest-building in August.
They then lay their eggs until November and raise the chicks
until February, when they are at their most vulnerable.
The 2004 dog control bylaw prohibits dogs from Brighton Beach
and trangressors face a $300 fine.
''By helping this species, we're also helping other species,
like the oyster-catchers,'' Ms Young said.
Anyone who sees dogs harassing penguins, or injured wildlife,
on Brighton, Ocean View and other beaches is asked to call
the Department of Conservation hotline on 0800 DOC HOT.