19 October 2007

Can Manly afford not to share North Head with Penguins?

Manly is fortunate to still have a population of the endangered Little Penguins. The 30 cm tall flightless seabird only weighs between 1000 and 1200 g . They are very social and like to live in some foreshore shelters, when they are not in the ocean/harbour hunting for fish and squid.

Humans are deciding at the moment whether they should have a right to a home or even a life. Habitat destruction/robbery, polluted water quality and unleashed dogs are the main threats to the existence of these little Fairy Penguins.

Some humans have already built a big building on top of a penguin colony in the National Park. That is not enough, they now would like to make it bigger and bring many more people to the place. They are willing to spend $21 million to turn the nice bush-land into an “eyesore”. There will be more cars, bright lights, noises and dogs – all of which the little fellows get scared of.

Other people think, that they should build the big buildings and roads where there is already infrastructure. They also would like their hunting ground, the water, protected and made into a Marine Reserve. That would mean, no more dirty runoff, noisy stinking boats, throwing fish corpses and plastic debris around, or even turning little penguins into bait. It is a tough struggle to give these unique creatures a right to exist.

Elsewhere the government has realised how these Penguins contribute to the economy and attract many visitors. They decided to invest many million dollars and buy them a big home: foreshore and ocean where they can live happily for a long time. No noisy, yucky building sites or dogs on the loose will threaten them in their new home there.

In such a place they can do what they naturally like doing, stay with their mates (cohorts), walk together in a ‘synchronized parade’, hunt for food and spend most of their time and life in that little in-group. Only disturbance, mostly from humans and dogs, makes them give up their normal social life.
North Head Developments, before and after
Penguins or dogs
Leave some of Manly as Penguin Habitat
Penguin Images
Poisonous plankton blooms killing Fairy Penguins
Video animation: The plight of the Little Penguin, Animation Oz, Act now!
Images: 1. Street art Manly, 2. Sign on gutter, urging not to pour pollutants down the drain, then to the ocean, then to the fish, then in to penguins or humans.

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