A king penguin made a rare visit to Australia last month, waddling along a beach in the southern part of the country after its 6,000-kilometer journey from Antarctica, according to reports earlier this week. The Antarctic penguin baffled experts who were surveying local wildlife on January 15 along Coorong, a stretch of coastline south of the city of Adelaide, South Australia.
The aquatic bird reportedly emerged from the waters of Coolong and was fearless enough to approach members of the Friends of Shorebirds South East (FOSSE) and their car. However, it is still a mystery why the flightless bird made a long trip and swam from the frigid waters of Antarctica and the relatively warm waters of Australia. The traveling animal has not been named yet as of Thursday, February 1.
Bizarre as it may seem, this is not the first time a penguin made a journey for thousands of kilometers from its native habitat towards a place not frequented by its kin or other members of its species. For over a decade, a Magellanic penguin named “Dindim” became famous on the internet by traveling approximately 8,000 kilometers each year to visit a fisherman in Brazil after being saved by him in 2011.
King Penguin Visits Australia
More than a week after visiting the FOSSE group, the king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) also made friends with fisherman Steve Jenkins at Wreck Crossing, along Coorong, on Australia Day last January 26. Jenkins told local media that the bird stayed for several hours until it started to leave. A video of the penguin-fisherman encounter was posted by Jenkins on Facebook.
Penguin sightings are extremely rare along Australian shores, since there were only two recording penguin visits in Australia over the past 40 years. The last but not-too-recent sighting was back in 2004 at Port MacDonnell, near the border of Victoria state. Prior to that, the older out of the two sightings was in 1987 near the Canuda National Park, located west of Mount Gambier.
Also Read: Humans Visit Emperor Penguin Colony in Antarctica for First Time
Do Penguins Travel Long Distances?
Penguins, just like other birds, travel long distances in search of food and to find potential mates for breeding, with survival or adaptation from changing environments being the general reason. Although penguins are unable to fly like migratory birds, they can swim thousands of miles to ideal locations just to survive and even protect their offspring.
In 2018, a study published in the journal PLOS ONE showed a group of New Zealand penguins called Fiordland penguins (Eudyptes pachyrhynchus) that can marathon 7,000 kilometers round trip for food. Scientists in the study are also mystified about the reasons behind the long journey by the penguins since other penguin species in New Zealand can find enough food in waters near their breeding colonies.
For reasons other than food, research in recent years shows that climate change and global warming are forcing some animals to migrate and live in foreign habitats, that are different from their own.
Related Article: Throwback: Dindim the Penguin Travels 5,000 Miles Every Year to Visit His Rescuer in Brazil
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