Kaikoura penguins have All Black names

This little, or little blue, penguin, is one of a number living at South Bay Kaikoura. The breeding season is under way ...
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This little, or little blue, penguin, is one of a number living at South Bay Kaikoura. The breeding season is under way and they are enjoying an improved living space.

Who would you rather adopt - Richie or Dan?  Or Sonny Bill or Savea? 

There are not quite enough for a rugby team yet, but seven newborn penguin chicks in Kaikoura have been given a good start to life - they've all been named after Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks.

And with nine eggs still to hatch, there may be still be enough for a complete All Blacks lineup.

The chicks, which can be adopted as part of KORI's Sponsor a Penguin project, are part of a colony monitored by Lindsay Rowe and members of Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute as part of the Penguin Education and Awareness Programme (PEAP).

Last year 24 chicks were born, with some pairs raising two clutches, effectively doubling their reproduction success. 

Little (or little blue) penguins would have originally occupied much of the peninsula area before introduced predators and habitat loss reduced their local population and distribution dramatically.

Their last local stronghold is a small area at South Bay, which had been eroding every year, destroying existing nests and reducing potential breeding habitat.

This year, a project involving KORI and the district and regional councils has improved the penguins' living space.

Following a large storm in early winter the councils put in place large boulders in front of the boat parking area and also in front of the penguin habitat.

These were filled with smaller rocks to further stabilise the bank. Flax cuttings were donated to provide nesting cover and to help prevent further erosion, and council gifted the corner of the recreational boat park to the penguin breeding colony.

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Together with the addition of more purpose-built nest boxes over the past year, the benefits of this team work are already being seen.

Alastair Judkins, of KORI, said the project was a great example of different organisations and individuals coming together to achieve a positive outcome for the biodiversity of Kaikoura. 

 - Kaikoura Star

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