One of the west coast’s most endearing residents is the little penguin. This utterly charming little bird (also known as the fairy penguin) is the world’s smallest penguin, growing to a length of around 40 cm and weighing just one kilo when fully grown.
These delightful, flightless sea birds (whose Greek name Eudyptula minor means ‘good little diver’) live in burrows within colonies that are mainly located on Tasmania’s offshore islands.
Little penguins spend their days at sea, diving to depths of between 10-30 metres as they hunt for small fish, squid or krill. The deepest recorded dive by a little penguin was an astonishing 60 metres!
About an hour before dusk, the penguins surface and call to each other before returning to shore in groups and returning to their burrows. Some penguins return to their burrows year-round, but most remain at sea during autumn and winter.
Penguins generally have one or two chicks each year and the parents take turns incubating the eggs while the other goes out to hunt. Chicks are independent by around eight weeks of age.
One of the best places to see little penguins near Strahan is on Bonnet Island in Macquarie Harbour. The resident colony returns to the island every evening at dusk, after a day spent hunting at sea.