New book reveals real world of penguins

01:00, Sep 18 2013
Peguins
Tui De Roy: "The world loves penguins but not that many people really know penguins."

Award-winning wildlife photographer and naturalist Tui De Roy will discuss her newest book Penguins: Their World, Their Ways in Nelson on Friday.

The Golden Bay-based author will also be holding a slideshow presentation of the images from the book, co-authored by Mark Jones and Julie Cornthwaite.

It covers the 18 penguin species, includes the latest scientific research and more than 400 photographs. Most penguin populations are in decline, and De Roy said the book highlights penguins' "complex and interesting lives".

"The world loves penguins but they love the penguins they see in commercials, the cartoon ones, the funny ones, the tap dancing ones, but not that many people really know penguins. Cartoons are very funny but real penguins are funnier, more fascinating, and more amazing in the way they live and the things they do."

New Zealand's main and subantarctic islands are home to six of the 18 species of penguin: the little blue, yellow-eyed penguin, fiordland penguin, snares penguin, erect-crested and southern rockhopper.

The trio worked on the book on and off for 10 years, alongside their recent publication Albatross, which was a finalist in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, highly praised here and overseas for its photography, text and science. Penguins was a "sister volume", De Roy said.

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"The first penguin I ever met personally was the Galapagos penguin, an unusual one that lives on the equator, so I started with the one people are least familiar with," De Roy said. The trio did trips with their own yacht to the sub-antarctic islands and forays around New Zealand to gather their images and stories, and took a number of trips working on vessels in Antarctica, as well as another trip with the Australian Antarctic Division to see emperor penguins nesting near one of their bases.

They visited penguins on the desert coasts of Peru and Chile, camping on a desert island to photograph the Humboldt penguin.

"Another hard to reach one was the northern rockhopper penguin on an island in the Atlantic," she said. "That's one of the most amazing-looking penguins; it has an incredible mop of Rastafarian hair."

De Roy has been based in Golden Bay for 15 years and has travelled to all seven continents in search of rare wildlife images.

She and co-author and business partner Jones are two of the world's most revered nature photographers, releasing books under their label Roving Tortoise Photography. The pair have also produced nature books on Antarctica, Kenya, and South America.

Hosted by Forest and Bird, the talk is on September 20 at 7.30 pm at Tahunanui School Hall in Muritai St, Nelson.

Nelson