In November 2021, a group from Millennium Kids, comprising adults, children and youth board members, went to Penguin Island to find out more about the little penguins and their declining numbers.
On the island, we met up with Erin Clitheroe, a scientist who has been researching the penguins on the island for a number of years. She informed us about the problems with temperatures in the nesting boxes where the penguins lay their eggs, as it is often too hot for them inside. We also discussed problems around beach erosion after storms, the boats and wakeboarding in the area, and tourism on the island, which all impacts the penguins. During a talk at the Discovery Centre we discovered that the staff there were not allowed to hatch the eggs laid by the captive penguins.
Following this, I went to Wildlife WA to ask about the possibility of their help in hatching the penguin eggs from the Discovery Centre. I learned that it is not possible to do this because they would need a special licence. They had lots of good suggestions about how to help the penguins, and said that public awareness of the problems would be important in making change.
Therefore, I decided to write to Reece Whitby, Minister for the Environment, and Dorinda Cox, Greens senator who has supported my project, to explain the dire need for action. I am awaiting their response, but since I wrote my letters Reece Whitby has announced they will build a new discovery centre on the island and do more to protect the penguins. However, they are building it on the grassed area, and decreasing the natural environment, as well as possibly disturbing the penguins’ habitat. Therefore, I am not sure this is a good solution, and plan to investigate further.
Author: Hannah Foster
Feature Image: Millenium Kids