Penguin washes up on WA beach
Denmark Veterinary Clinic veterinary nurse Chris Spencer feeds squid to the penguin. Picture: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

Experts believe a tiny penguin that washed up in Denmark two weeks ago travelled for well over half its life from New Zealand's South Island before reaching a local beach on July 15.

The 10-month-old Fiordland penguin, weighing little more than 1kg, made a 3500km, six-month journey through the Southern Ocean to become the first of its kind to reach WA this year. It has been recovering at Denmark Veterinary Clinic.

Veterinarian David Edmonds said the bird most likely hatched in August or September and left New Zealand in November.

"The best theory is that he was feeding from the continental shelf near Albany and probably became storm-wrecked," he said.

Victorian bird expert and author Ken Simpson has confirmed the penguin as a Fiordland, one of five that have landed in Australia this year - two in South Australia and two in Victoria.

Dr Edmonds said the penguin was being fed squid mixed with salt and placed in a paddle pool to help waterproof its feathers.

"When he arrived, he could barely stand and now he can walk around," Dr Edmonds said. "He also had an eye injury which has healed."

The penguin now weighs 1.7kg but needs to be about 3.5kg.

Dr Edmonds has also looked after four rockhopper penguins which swam ashore this year after travelling 3500km from the west.

The arrival of the five penguins in Denmark was a sign that they were having to go further for food and that might be because of overfishing, Dr Edmonds said.

The Fiordland penguin will be released back into the wild.

The West Australian

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