Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


“Eco-tourists” Love Penguins To Death

“Eco-tourists” Love Penguins To Death

Research that shows unregulated tourism is threatening the survival of a yellow-eyed penguin colony on the Otago Peninsula has won a PhD student from the University of Otago a major prize in the MacDiarmid Young Scientists of the Year Awards.

Ursula Ellenberg’s study of the penguin colony at Sandfly Bay about 10 kilometres from Dunedin shows that the birds don’t breed as well as those in more remote sites as a result of stress caused by frequent disturbance from the thousands of people who visit each year.

Ursula has won the Adding Value to Nature category which is sponsored by the University of Waikato. The MacDiarmid Awards are presented by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology with Fisher & Paykel Appliances as principal sponsor.

The 35-year-old researcher used hidden surveillance cameras and microphones embedded in dummy eggs to observe the birds, which Ursula’s findings have shown to be one of the shyest penguin species in the world. Monitoring shows even careful visitors to nest sites cause a doubling of the penguin’s heart rate with the birds needing up to half an hour to recover.

As a result of disturbance, the birds are more likely to abandon their nests and chick feeding may be disrupted, leading to reduced breeding success and lighter fledglings.

The iconic yellow-eyed penguin caught Ursula’s attention when she learned that increased visitor numbers were associated with a decline in penguin sightings at Sandfly Bay which is one of the most easily accessible bird-spotting sites on the Otago Peninsula.

Ursula says yellow-eyed penguins spend around 80 per cent of their time in the water and many at Sandfly Bay are reluctant to come ashore to return to their nesting sites because they have to pass tourists waiting to snap a photograph.

“People sit on the main penguin highway waiting or get between the birds and their nests, forcing them back into the sea and delaying chick feeding times.

“The wealth of movie and TV footage that shows wildlife close up probably isn’t helping – it raises unrealistic expectations about how close you can get and doesn’t show the space animals need.”

Originally from Germany, Ursula studied at universities in Germany, Canada and Chile before coming to New Zealand five years ago. Her interest in the impact of eco tourism was sparked when she was guiding back country tours in the Norwegian Arctic in the late 1990s and realised how little was known about the potential effects trekkers had on wildlife.

Ursula says her findings highlight the need for appropriate visitor management at eco-tourism sites. She is working with the Department of Conservation to introduce better signage at Sandfly Bay and have volunteer wardens on hand to improve visitor understanding of the impact of their behaviour.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Season Ends: Is Whitebaiting Sustainable?

The whitebait fry - considered a delicacy by many - are the juveniles of five species of galaxiid, four of which are considered threatened or declining. The SMC asked freshwater experts for their views on the sustainability of the whitebait fishery and whether we're doing enough to monitor the five species of galaxiid that make up whitebait. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: Smaller-Than-Expected Four-Month Deficit

The New Zealand government's accounts recorded a smaller-than-forecast deficit in the first four months of the fiscal year on a higher-than-expected inflow of corporate and goods and services tax. More>>

ALSO:

On For Christmas: KiwiRail Ferries Back In Full Operation After Quake

KiwiRail’s Interislander ferries are back in full operation for the first time since the Kaikoura earthquake, with the railspan that allows rail wagons to be loaded on the Aratere now restored. More>>

ALSO:

Comerce Commission Investigation: Prosecutions Over Steel Mesh Labelling

Steel & Tube Holdings, along with two other companies, will be prosecuted by the Commerce Commission following the regulator's investigation into seismic steel mesh, while Fletcher Building's steel division has been given a warning. More>>

ALSO:

Wine: 20% Of Marlborough Storage Tanks Damaged By Quake

An estimated 20 percent of wine storage tanks in the Marlborough region, the country’s largest wine producing area, have been damaged by the impact of the recent Kaikoura earthquake. More>>

ALSO:

ACC: Levy Recommendations For 2017 – 2019 Period

• For car owners, a 13% reduction in the average Motor Vehicle levy • For businesses, a 10% reduction in the average Work levy, and changes to workplace safety incentive products • For employees, due to an increase in claims volumes and costs, a 3% increase in the Earners’ levy. More>>

Women's Affairs: Government Accepts Recommendations On Pay Equity

The Government will update the Equal Pay Act and amend the Employment Relations Act to implement recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news