Concerns raised by people on Facebook over the fate of three young blue penguins released into Picton Harbour last Friday were probably misdirected, Department of Conservation ranger Bill Cash says.
On Friday, the Edwin Fox Museum posted on Facebook about its staff helping Picton Float Plane owner Alistair Gray rescue the penguins from a sump at the bottom of a drain near the foreshore. The post has since been removed.
A story about the rescue was published yesterday in the Marlborough Express.
The good deed drew a string of online criticism from people who saw pictures of the birds on Facebook.
They felt the penguins were too young to be put into the sea, as they had small patches of down feathers, which are not effective at keeping the birds dry and warm.
Mr Cash said it might have been safer to monitor the penguins for a night before releasing them, but the small amount of down feathers showing meant they had a good chance of survival.
"They had definitely left home, so they were either heading for the sea or they had just left the sea. Either way, putting them there would not make much difference.
"Judging from the photos, they only had a small amount of down on them, and I've seen them like that in the water before - they leave home when they're hungry.
"They looked like healthy birds, and for all we know they jumped in the water and paddled back around to the shore."
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