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Hundreds of penguin deaths in New Zealand linked to climate change


Beset by predator attacks and human development, the world’s smallest penguin faces its largest threat yet: climate change

A dead kororā (little blue penguin) on a beach. Image: Seamoor via Flickr Walking the 3,000-kilometre Te Araroa trail should have been the adventure of a lifetime. However, hikers on the Ninety Mile Beach were dismayed to find more than 200 dead birds on the shore . The little blue penguin (Eudyptula minor) , also known by the indigenous Maori people as a kororā, was among the greatest casualties.

The hikers’ experience was not an isolated one. On May 2, 20 little blue penguins were found dead on Tokerau Beach. Ten days laters, more than a hundred kororā were found dead by the residents of Cable Bay.

Usually standing at only 30cm tall and weighing no more than 1.5kg, the kororā is the world’s smallest penguin. The species is endemic to New Zealand, and colonies can be found on most of the country’s coastline.

Mass kororā deaths used to occur once every decade due to naturally occuring temperature fluctuations, but scientists fear they are now happening more frequently. As a result, little blue penguin populations have been declining, and they have been labelled “at […]

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