Two rehabilitated penguins were released back into the wild at Fairlight Beach on 5 March by Commanding Officer HMAS Penguin Commander Paul Gall and staff from Taronga Zoo.
The two female penguins, Bernie and Nicola - the second named by Commander Gall after his daughter, had been rehabilitated at Taronga Zoo hospital for months, since they were found by National Parks and Wildlife volunteers in distress.
As the Royal Australian Navy is a major user of the harbour, Commander Gall said he was pleased to participate in the release, highlighting the importance of protecting the endangered species.
“As the Commanding Officer of a base that shares the same name, I was delighted to be asked to assist with the release.”
“Penguin has strong links with the local community and we sponsor the penguin enclosure at Taronga Zoo, with money we fundraise during the year,” Commander Gall said.
Taronga Wildlife Hospital Manager, Libby Hall, who had nurtured the penguins back to good health said they pair came in separately in poor condition, but their prospects are good.
“Bernie and Nicola came in at half their body weight. After spending weeks in intensive care, they are now fit and healthy and in perfect condition. They should integrate well into the colony,” Ms Hall said.
Now they are back in the harbour, National Parks and Wildlife Ranger, Melanie Tyas says there is a good chance the little penguins may be seen around Penguin.
“While the main only breeding colony in NSW is around Manly, the penguins do fish all around the harbour and out to sea,” Ms Tyas said.
“With only 60 to 70 breeding pairs in the Manly Colony, every little penguin is very important.
“Most of the birds that are sent to Taronga for rehabilitation have been damaged by recreational boat users or attacked by dogs. As we release these two back into the wild, it is timely to remind harbour users to keep a look out for the endangered birds,” Ms Tyas said.