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Tiny penguin s long journey
Picture: Laurie Benson Denmark Veterinary Clinic vet nurse Chris Spencer feeding squid to the Fiordland penguin.

Experts have discovered 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 Mazzoletti Beach on July 15.

Weighing barely more than a kilogram, the 10-month-old Fiordland penguin has made a six-month voyage through from New Zealand’s South Island to the Southern Ocean before washing ashore at Mazzoletti Beach in Denmark on July 15.

Weighing barely more than a kilogram, the Fiordland penguin isto become the first of its kind to reach come to WA this year. It has been recovering from the long journey at Denmark Veterinary Clinic.

Clinic vet David Edmonds said the little creature most likely hatched in August or September last year and left New Zealand in November.

“It’s fascinating to think how far he’s come, nearly 4000km in six months,” he said.

“The best theory is that he was feeding from the continental shelf, which is near Albany.

“He probably became storm-wrecked on shore.”

Dr Edmonds said it was difficult to distinguish crested penguin types, so he sent photographs off to Victorian bird guru and author Ken Simpson.

Mr Simpson confirmed the penguin was a Fiordland, one of five that have landed in Australia this year, with two in South Australia and two in Victoria.

“Penguins spend four to five years travelling before returning to New Zealand to mate,” Dr Edmonds said.

Dr Edmonds said the penguin, which has not been confirmed as either male or female, was being fed squid twice a day mixed with salt. to keep up its salt intake.

It has also been paddling in a paddle pool to help water-proof its feathers.

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

“He weighed 1.3kg and now he weighs 1.7kg, he’s at his full height but needs to get a lot fatter; about 3.5kg.”

Dr Edmonds has also looked after four rockhopper penguins which swam ashore to Denmark earlier this year.

“The rockhoppers have travelled 3500km from the west and this one 3500km from the east,” he said.

“We are concerned about these penguins turning up in Denmark, they are obviously having to go further for food. This might be because of over-fishing.”

The Fiordland penguin will be released back into the wild next week.