Kirsty Wynn

Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Penguins make nests from rubbish

The Herald on Sunday is campaigning to get all of New Zealand out on the beaches this summer, keeping them clean for our kids and our grandkids. We'll be out with our rubbish bags - and we want you and your family to join us.

Make sure you're counted! You can register your support or participation through nzherald.co.nz here or at facebook.com/sustainablecoastlines.

Little Blue Penguins are suffering from the effects of pollution dropped in the areas in which they make their burrows. Photo / Supplied
Little Blue Penguins are suffering from the effects of pollution dropped in the areas in which they make their burrows. Photo / Supplied

Little blue penguin nests are being ruined by ignorant beachgoers trashing their burrows.

While researching the penguin's Coromandel Coast habitat, environmental management student Julia Graham was appalled to find nesting burrows filled with rubbish. "This stuff hasn't washed in, it is shoved in there and it is in places penguins would usually go to nest and breed," she said.

Many of the rubbish-filled holes had penguin feathers and guano, signs of nesting.

Penguins sit on their eggs for 55 days, then take turns to feed the chick in the nest for a few weeks until it is ready to leave.

Graham said the rubbish could be fatal if eaten and could trap the small birds. Broken glass was also a common find in the natural burrows.

Graham and a classmate collected bags of rubbish from Colville to Fletcher Bay and noted the lack of rubbish bins where cars parked.

"I can understand why they don't have bins but there needs to be some awareness so people know there are no bins and they need to take waste with them," she said.

If burrows along the beach were blocked the penguins had to go further in search of a place to nest. "It means them crossing a road and going on to farm land, which means potentially being hit by a car or taken by predators."

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Clean-up crews for the next Beach-Busters event will be rewarded with fresh mussels, music and a barbecue. Simply turn up at Coromandel's Long Bay boat ramp, the Kuranui Bay Reserve in Thames, the Whangamata and Pauanui Surf Life Saving Clubs or the Whitianga Wharf between 10am and 2pm on Saturday March 3. Boaties can contact marine operations manager Sam Judd on 021 058 9349 or sam@sustainablecoastlines.org Reef Shipping will supply free fuel for boaties who register early. There will be music, fresh mussels from Sanfords, and a barbecue at the Long Bay Motor Camp near Coromandel Town in the evening of March 3.

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YOUR CHANCE TO WIN BIG

Win a camera every week

Take a photo of your friends or family cleaning up your favourite beach and go in the draw to win a Sony Cyber-shot TX10, valued at $649.95. With an Underwater Sweep Panorama function and 16.2 Mega Pixels you'll be able to take stunning underwater photos, as well as crystal clear shots on land. We have one camera to give away every week for the next 10 weeks to the person who takes the best photo, as judged by Herald on Sunday illustrations editor Chris Marriner. Five runners-up will each receive a copy of the book Beached As - New Zealand Beaches Then and Now by Craig Levers.

GRAND PRIZE

At the end of our Beach Busters campaign, the overall winner will receive a grand prize package comprising:

* a Sony Tablet S valued at $749.95

* a dive, snorkel or sightseeing trip for two to the Poor Knights Marine Reserve courtesy of Dive! Tutukaka

* $400 worth of clothing from surf label Sitka.

Entries close each week at Friday noon, and the winning photo will be printed each Sunday. So get snapping, and email your best shot as a JPEG to pictures@hos.co.nz with 'Beach Busters' in the subject line. Make sure you include your name, address and daytime phone number. Include a caption giving the place and full names of the people in the photo.

Please see terms and conditions at www.nzherald.co.nz/HOScompetitions. APN New Zealand reserves the right to store electronically any pictures entered in the competition and to use the images in any of its publications.

- Herald on Sunday

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