Unusually persistent easterly winds and rougher seas since Christmas, have brought feeding penguins closer to the Mangawhai shore.
Unable to preen in the rough sea and breakers they have been arriving on the beach exhausted and often hungry.
Some arrive injured or are found dead, after being attacked by kahawai or kingfish that mistake them for food, and some are exposed to predators on arrival. Whangarei Bird Recovery Centre’s Robert Webb, has treated about 15 penguins in the last fortnight.
The centre advises people who come across tired penguins, to carefully put them in the sand dunes or tussock. The penguins will stay on land for a couple of days to rest, preen and re-oil their feathers before returning to the water.
“Whatever you do, don’t pick it up and put it back it the water, it will be exhausted and it could drown. As soon as you touch a penguin you take the water-proofing off its feathers from the acid on your hands, meaning it can’t swim anymore, so use a towel if possible."
Beachgoers who come across penguins that look particularly ill or injured are encouraged to call the centre on 09 438 1457 or the Department of Conservation 0800 362 468.