WA Seabird Rescue successfully releases penguin trio after coming ashore for annual moult

Kellie BalaamAlbany Advertiser
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Three northern rockhopper penguins were released successfully.
Camera IconThree northern rockhopper penguins were released successfully. Credit: Dennis Friend/Dennis Friend

Excited by the sights and sounds of the sea, a trio of penguins waddled along the sand near the Torbay Inlet before they took the plunge into the Southern Ocean.

They seemed hesitant at first, but they eventually found the courage to get the salt water running through their feathers again.

The northern rockhopper penguins, who came into the care of WA Seabird Rescue at the start of January, have been successfully released back into the Southern Ocean.

BB, Banksi and William were cared for by WASR Albany rehabilitator Carol Biddulph.

Three Northern Rockhopper penguins were released successfully.
Camera IconThree Northern Rockhopper penguins were released successfully. Credit: Dennis Friend

The penguins come ashore from December-April every year to moult and are unable to return to the water for about three weeks while they grow new feathers.

During this time they are vulnerable to predators and human disturbance.

Ms Biddulph described the moment she released the penguins as “bittersweet”.

“There is no turning back once the birds are released,” she said.

“It was all worth it, as to see them swimming away was just the best feeling.”

Ms Biddulph said all three birds were at the correct release weight and well waterproofed.

Three Northern Rockhopper penguins were released successfully.
Camera IconThree Northern Rockhopper penguins were released successfully. Credit: Dennis Friend

“I have found over the years the rockhoppers do take their time to think about getting into the ocean and often have to be herded and encouraged to get their feet wet.”

This release was no exception.

“They hung around and stayed close to the shore, so I decided to carry them out to deeper water,” she said.

“Once out there, the birds were in their element, diving under the surf and swimming further out.”

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