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Little Penguin Project

The Little Penguins on Penguin Island are the most northwestern population of the species, making it vulnerable to environmental changes such as global warming resulting from climate change. Over the past 15 years, the population on the island has drastically declined. Estimates indicate a startling 80% reduction in the colony’s breeding population between 2007 and 2019 and scientists are concerned the population has continues to decline.

The Little Penguin Project sets out to implement some of the interventions listed in the Climate Change Adaption Strategy for the Little Penguins. These interventions if implemented may help to mitigate some of the negative impacts associated with a changing climate such as changing prey availability, reduced rainfall, high ambient temperatures, and reduced reproductive performance.

In 2023 Part Time Rangers funded a research project to trial 2 new Little Penguin nest box designs aimed at buffering breeding penguins from increases in air temperature associated with climate change. The most effective nest box design was selected and are to be built by the Palm Beach Rotary Club and then placed on the island, providing a more thermally suitable nesting habitat for this very important population.

Other interventions being carried out include establishing cooling stations (water bowls and misting) for the little penguins and installing newly designed nest boxes. Vegetation surveys and heat mapping of the island are also being carried out to determine and monitor how the island is changing in response to climate change and guide revegetation efforts. The implementation of these interventions and surveys are supported by funding from the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program.

The project is planned to span over 3 years, with 2023 being the first year of the project. We’ll be looking for citizen scientists and volunteers to assist with implementing some of this amazing work.

Please drop our Citizen Science Program Manager, Kelly, an email at [email protected] if you’d like to come and help our Little Penguins.

CCWA's Little Penguin Project is supported by funding from the Western Australian Government's State NRM Program