The white flippered penguin is the Canterbury cousin of the more abundant Little Blue Penguin. Over the last 20 years it’s estimated that around 70% of the local population has been lost. This is mainly due to predators including cats, rats, stoats and ferrets. Black Cat has been working on trapping these predators around the entrance to Akaroa Harbour for the last 6 months. Setting traps where the penguins nest is tricky business because they nest in some seriously out of the way places! These areas require staff to swim from a boat with the traps and bait as they are not accessible by land. Already we have succeeded in catching some rats and stoats and will continue this project to create a safer habitat for the penguins.
White flippered penguins are the smallest penguins in the world – only 30 cm tall. They are only found in Canterbury on Banks Peninsula, confined to inaccessible headlands, caves and rock jumbles. They breed from July to December, usually underground in burrows or natural holes but will also make use of any man-made cavity or nest under buildings. Nests can be more than 500 metres inland and 200 metres up hillsides.