It appears penguins have taken a liking to Timaru. But Timaru seems to have been a little slow in taking a liking to penguins?
You'd have thought we'd be more embracing.
They're cute, funny, different and they don't go looking for trouble.
Oh, most of all, they're potential money earners.
Just look at Oamaru. Around 100,000 visitors a year, at $5 a child and $12 an adult. Not bad at all.
And when the tourist traffic seems to make a point of avoiding us, here's a point of difference.
The little blue penguins are nesting in the rocks along Marine Pde, they're taking shelter under the boardwalk, and they're in the rock wall near the Evans Bay reclamation area. They may be elsewhere as well.
Five years ago there were six pairs. Now, who knows, it could be as many as seven. It could be 17. No one knows.So how come we're not taking an active interest?
Maybe it's too much hassle.
There's a port to run, and there are other beach users to consider. Such as people. And dogs.
And some dog owners are a tad tetchy just at the moment. Better to lie low perhaps?
Surely though, no one wants to read a headline like the one we carried on Thursday in relation to Cape Foulwind: "Dog attacks destroy blue penguin colony".
Already we've had instances of dogs attacking the birds, with a couple of penguins dying. And it's likely to happen more often as penguin numbers increase.
So wouldn't we be better with a bit of planning now, to avoid conflict later.
As penguin numbers increase, it is the penguins who are deciding where they'll pitch camp. There are no records of any applying for resource consents or building permits.
Might we not be better to start building some nesting boxes now, to encourage them into areas we can manage?
Somewhere where we can put up a boundary fence. And a grandstand. And a ticket office.
Somewhere where everybody will be happy.
- © Fairfax NZ News