Sea Creature of the Week!

February 7th, 2012

Little Blue Penguin

Scientific name: Eudyptula minor

Fun Facts: The Little Blue Penguin, also known as Fairy Penguin and Little Penguin, is the smallest penguin species in the world!

It grows to only 13 inches in height, 17 inches in length, and on average weighs only 3.3 pounds!

While typically only diving up to 2 meters and for 21 seconds, the Little Penguin can dive as deep as 20 meters and can stay under water for as long as 60 seconds!

Home: The Little Blue Penguin breeds along the coast of New Zealand, the Chatham Islands, and southern Australia.
Populations have also been reported in certain areas of Chile and South Africa.

Physical Features: Like all penguins, the Little Blue Penguin has flippers instead of wings. Their belly is white while their head and back side are a grayish blue. Their feet are pink with black soles and webbing.

Behavior: Little Blue Penguins are no stranger to the ocean. They spend all day at sea from sunrise to hunting into the evening, but they also spend time on land.

Little Blue Penguins live in large year-long colonies. The female penguin matures at 2 years old and the male matures at 3 years old.

Each mating partner makes burrows on land to raise their chicks. Partners remain faithful to each other only during breeding seasons.

The Little Penguin has a long life span for a sea bird, living up to 6.5 years in the wild and up to 25 years in captivity.
 
Food: Little Penguins swim and dive extensively to hunt for fish, squid and other small sea creatures.

Conservation status: Fortunately, their conservation status is at the “least concern” level which means that they are not endangered!  There are roughly 350,000-600,000 little penguins world wide.

Predators, including cats, dogs, and reptiles, are their biggest threat. Many measures are taken to protect colonies of little blue penguins from predators such as using sheepdogs to ward off foxes and wild dogs.