The little penguin
(Also known as fairy penguin, blue penguin or little blue penguin)
The little penguin is the world’s smallest penguin species and is well known to most visitors to Australia’s southern coastline. It stands about 35 cm tall and weighs about 1.2kg. By comparison the emperor penguin, which is the largest penguin in the world, stands over 110 cm and can weigh 30kg. The little penguin is the only penguin to breed in Australia.
The little penguin is found only in Australia and New Zealand. Large numbers occur only where suitable conditions are present. Little penguins favour rocky shorelines, just like Granite Island, which provide suitable breeding sites. The availability of feeding grounds also determines the size and success of a colony.
Little penguins are vulnerable to attacks by dogs, and they can get stressed due to disturbance from unknowing people. Please adhere to the following guidelines, so others may continue to enjoy the same experience.
- Three metres is as close as you should approach, to limit the disturbance that you cause
- Camera flashes are very disturbing to penguins. A camera flash will blind a penguin for up to five minutes making them vulnerable to predation
- Use torches indirectly - shine the bright spot past the penguin. It is preferable that you place your hand over the torch or use a red filter
- Many penguin deaths have been caused by dog attacks, so keep dogs away at all times. Even the smell of dogs within the colony will disturb penguins and may stop them from breeding
- The penguins always have the 'right of way'. They are usually returning to their burrow or chicks. Don’t get between chicks and adult penguins or obstruct a penguin from getting to its burrow
- Moulting penguins may be easy to see in their burrows but they are most vulnerable at this time. Their new feathers are not yet waterproof so they cannot leave the burrow if disturbed
- Do not touch any penguin, chick, eggs or burrow as human scent may cause the penguins to abandon their breeding activities
- During summer penguin watching becomes challenging as most of the adults are out at sea feeding for the next breeding season in autumn. Consequently there may be nights when no penguins can be found in summer.
- Little penguins fact sheet