By Tobias Devereux | Posted: Tuesday December 5, 2017
This year I had the opportunity to take part in the Tracking Pukekura Blue Penguins programme which involved a series of four workshops, each of which was an entire school day.
There were about 20 students from a variety of Dunedin high schools, including Year 9s and 10s taking part in the programme and some older ambassadors to help run the workshops. On each of the four workshop days we left from the Railway Station at 8.45pm on a bus going to Taiaroa Head and came back at about 5.30pm, except for one day when we got to stay later (until about 9.00pm) to watch the penguins come back to shore.
As part of this programme we learned about Little Blue Penguins, found out about about what is being, and can be done, to help these penguins and also participated in the conservation of this species. We built penguin nest boxes, dug out buried nest boxes, planted native trees and removed weeds. We also recorded information about already placed nest boxes and where they are located. During the last session we even got to hold a penguin chick while a scientist put a transponder (a small chip to uniquely identify each penguin) in the back of its neck!
It was a really fun experience to travel to Taiaroa Head to see all of the amazing wildlife there and to be part of this conservation project. Another thing I personally enjoyed was learning about how they are using technology to monitor the penguins and their activity. This programme is definitely something I would encourage others to take part in if it’s offered again in the future.