North-bound young penguin missing

The yellow-eyed penguins have been fitted with a satellite tag attached to their lower backs. ...
The yellow-eyed penguins have been fitted with a satellite tag attached to their lower backs. Photo: Jessica Abt
The little yellow-eyed penguin that could has gone missing.

Takaraha, a juvenile bird that has been tracked covering more than 950km in a first-ever University of Otago study since fledging in the Catlins, has not updated its position since 11am on Sunday.

Zoology PhD candidate Mel Young said yesterday the bird from Penguin Bay, south of Owaka, could be in the Marlborough region.

She said in her pilot study last year, there were gaps of between four and seven days in the data.

Someone at Cape Campbell lighthouse was sent out looking to see if Takaraha was ashore on the headland.

"It could be that the bird is under vegetative cover, or has pulled the device off, or nature has taken its course,'' Miss Young said.

"It is also possible that there have not been enough satellites overhead to get a transmission.''

She could not immediately be reached for comment today.

Takahara was one of 23 juvenile yellow-eyed penguins, or hoiho, fitted with a satellite tracker to understand penguin behaviour in their first few months at sea.

But it was the only bird in the study to have followed a course up the coast north towards Cook Strait.

Only 20% of birds survive their first year and last week three transmitters had stopped sending signals.

A plotted map shows the progress of Takaraha. PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO
A plotted map shows the progress of Takaraha. PHOTO: UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO

Last week, Miss Young called for sightings of birds with transmitters to be reported to the University of Otago or the Department of Conservation, but said the birds should not be approached.

Takaraha's transmitter was paid for by the South Otago branch of Forest & Bird.

Last week branch chairman Roy Johnstone said there were not only natural hazards, but "fishing hazards" along the South Island's east coast.

University of Otago's Thomas Mattern late last year predicted that the birds were headed for extinction on mainland New Zealand. Some  250 breeding pairs exist on the southeast coast.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

Add a Comment

drivesouth-pow-generic-1.png

 

Advertisement

postanote_header_620_x_80.png

postanote_620_x_25.jpg

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter