Where can I see the penguins?
The penguins can be found on the breakwater at the end of the St Kilda Pier. Walk past the kiosk and you will see, hear and smell them. You will see the penguins standing on the rocks and crossing the top of the breakwater.
When can I see the penguins?
The St Kilda penguins can be seen every night of the year after sunset. The best viewing time is one hour after sunset when you can see the penguins sitting on the rocks and crossing the path. It is not always possible to see the penguins coming in from sea, but you can always see them on the rocks.
What species of penguin lives in St Kilda?
The species of penguin that occupies the St Kilda breakwater is called the Little Penguin (Eudyptula minor). They were previously known as Blue penguins or Fairy penguins. They are now called little penguins because they are the smallest species of penguin in the world.
How many penguins live in St Kilda?
The St Kilda colony is estimated to consist of 1400 individuals. This is a relatively large colony of little penguins with most colonies only consisting of a few hundred individuals. Phillip Island has the largest colony with an estimated 72,000 penguins.
How small are little penguins?
The average size of a little penguin is ~30cm tall and ~1000g for females and ~1200g for males.
Can you tell the difference between males and females?
Males are generally heavier than females and their beak is slightly larger. These differences are often subtle, and it can be hard to tell without the right equipment or a keen eye.
What do penguin chicks look like?
Penguin chicks reach the same size as their parents very quickly but sometimes you can see smaller chicks standing on the rocks. The best way to tell the difference is by the colour and texture of their feathers. Penguin chicks begin their life with fluffy, grey, down feathers. They will replace these feathers with waterproof blue feathers before it is time for them to leave the nest (fledge). You may see penguin chicks with a combination of down and adult feathers.
Where else can you find little penguins?
Little penguins are endemic to Australia and New Zealand meaning that they cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Within Australia they can be found in WA, SA, VIC and NSW. The most famous place to view little penguins is on Phillip Island.
Why is it best to see the penguins at night?
During the day, little penguins either spend their time in their nests between the rocks or at sea fishing. They come out of their nests after sunset because they feel safe from predators. Penguins return from sea during this time to rest or return to their parental duties during the breeding season.
When do the penguins breed?
The St Kilda colony has a very large breeding period lasting from June-February. At Phillip Island, the breeding period usually only lasts for 3 months and will begin in Spring. The breeding period is much longer for the St Kilda colony because there is a lot of food available in Port Phillip Bay for most of the year. Some St Kilda penguins have successfully raised chicks despite the cold!
Do little penguins mate for life?
Little penguins are known to reproduce with the same partner over multiple breeding seasons. However, there are sometimes "divorces" which occur even when both partners are still alive. There is also evidence to suggest infidelity by some females.
What is moult?
Every year, little penguins undertake a process known as "moult". During moult, penguins replace their old worn feathers with new, more effective plumage (feathers). During this process they are restricted to land and must fast for approximately 3 weeks. Before moult, the penguins need to put on lots of body mass to survive the demanding period. Moult usually occurs after the breeding season between March-June.
Who is protecting the penguins?
Earthcare St Kilda are a not-for-profit organisation with 180 volunteers who protect the penguins. Every night of the year there are penguin guides along the breakwater who are present to speak with the community and make sure that visitors are not using flash photography or standing on the rocks. There is also a group of research volunteers who monitor the population's health every fortnight.
The pdf below contains more questions and answers if you would like to learn more:
Questions and Answers