Middle Island Maremma Project
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Warrnambool’s Middle Island is home to seabirds such as the Short-tailed Shearwater, the Black-faced Cormorant and the Little Penguin.
The Little Penguin population has been decimated by fox predation over the years, with an estimated 600 penguins in 1999 reduced to less than 10 by 2005.
Since 2006 Maremma Guardian Dogs have been trained to protect Middle Island’s Little Penguins from foxes, allowing the population to slowly build to well over 100 penguins today.
This world first award winning project relies on the assistance of businesses, organisations and volunteers to help with penguin counts, penguin breeding monitoring and improving habitat for penguins by revegetating areas with native species. If you want to help support the Middle Island Maremma Project please contact Warrnambool City Council on 5559 4876. If you would like to help volunteer please visit www.wclg.com.au
Find out how this innovative project began by clicking on the video link.
Middle Island has been closed to the public since 2006. This has made a significant difference to the health of the Middle Island Little Penguin Colony which has grown every year since.
Use of Maremma Guardian dogs was first trialled in 2006 following near decimation of the colony by foxes. The Maremmas have successfully kept the foxes at bay since they were introduced to the island but limiting human access to the island has also contributed to the incline in penguin numbers by ceasing accidental tramping of burrows.
It is very exciting that residents of Warrnambool and members of the public now have the opportunity to view the world of the Little Penguins living on Middle Island. A unique collaboration between Warrnambol City Council, Wildiaries, Coastalwatch and Warrnambool Coastcare Landcare Group has enabled the installation of webcams into three nesting boxes.
Click on this link and let the world of the Little Penguin come alive without moving from your armchair.
Little Penguin Facts
The Little Penguin, the smallest of the penguin species, stands 40cm tall and weighs about 1kg. They can swim up to 8km/hr and dive as deep as 50m.
Little Penguins live mostly in the ocean, using land to moult feathers and to breed. Penguins breed from around 3 years of age, digging nesting burrows and using artificial nesting boxes to raise their young from August to February.