Monday, September 23, 2013

Little Blue Breeding: New Birds on the Block

The Aquarium participates in a Species Survival Plan for our penguins. Little blue penguin breeding season is just ending. Catch up on what happened behind the scenes this past summer!

After a successful breeding season we are happy to announce that two little blue penguins were born at the Aquarium behind the scenes are now with the rest of the little blue colony on exhibit.

A little blue penguin chick introduced this previous post

Unlike other penguin species where the juvenile penguins have a different feather pattern than the adults (such as the African and rockhopper penguins), little blue penguins do not have a different juvenile feather stage.

Notice the difference in plumage from this adult African penguin...
... and this juvenile African penguin.

So even though these two new birds are only around 3 months old they look just like penguins that are 5 years old. The only way to spot them is to look for their identification bracelets.

Let me introduce you to our newest additions


This is Thigaraa. She has a purple and pink bracelet on her right wing. She was born in May of 2013. Thigaraa is an Aboriginal word for bird from a tribe from Queensland.


This is Granite. He has an orange and white bracelet on his left wing. He was born in June of 2013. He is named after Granite Island in South Australia, which is a breeding island for little blue penguins.

Unfortunately Granite Island, along with other islands in South Australia, has seen a recent and dramatic decline in its penguin populations over that last few years. While the exact cause in the sudden decrease in the penguin population is unknown, researchers believe some possible causes are introduced predators like foxes and cats, the booming New Zealand fur seal population and diminishing fish populations.

The next time you are visiting the Aquarium stop by and say hello!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Little Blue Penguin Breeding: Wait, these are babies!

The Aquarium participates in a Species Survival Plan for our penguins. Right now is little blue penguin breeding season. Over the coming weeks we'll share behind-the-scenes pictures and details about what it takes to raise penguins chicks on Central Wharf. Catch up on what you missed!

Given their small size we are often asked if the little blue penguins are babies. All of the little blue penguins on exhibit are full grown adults or juveniles. The little blue penguin is the smallest species of penguin and stand at about 10-12 inches tall and weigh 2-3 pounds. In fact, many visitor at the Aquarium ask if the little blues are babies. Nope!

If the adults are that small, can you imagine how small the chicks are? When a little blue chick pips out of its shell it usually weighs between 30–40 grams, which is only about 1–1.5 ounces! That’s about the weight of a Hershey Bar.

This photo was taken shortly after this chick finished hatching and weighed less than 40 grams.

These tiny little chicks grow very fast. In about a month’s time they can weigh as much as their parents. These “big babies” are still covered with down and rely on their parents for food until it fledges. Once fledged, they have their first set of waterproof feathers; at this time they are ready to swim and get food on their own.

Here are some photos of our little blue penguin chicks that were born behind the scenes.

A little blue chick recently pipped from its shell

Getting bigger

This chick is about 2 weeks old; it can still fit under its parents for protection but not for long

It takes a lot of food to grow that fast, this chick is opening up its beak showing that it is hungry and ready for a meal

This chick is about one month old, and as you can see it is the same size as its parents but is still covered in down.

At about 6 weeks old this chick has started to fledge.
Its first set of waterproof feathers has started to replace its down.

Come see the little blue penguins in their exhibit at the Aquarium! Choose a time you wish to visit and buy a ticket online. Print it out at home (no service charge!) and you'll be well on your way to seeing all 80+ penguins on Central Wharf.