Coastal erosion forces penguins to tackle 3m 'cliffs'

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Coastal erosion on the West Coast is forcing little blue penguins to tackle 3m-high banks to reach their burrows. File Photo / APN
Coastal erosion on the West Coast is forcing little blue penguins to tackle 3m-high banks to reach their burrows. File Photo / APN

Massive coastal erosion up and down the West Coast has dramatically reduced the habitat of little blue penguins and in places has left them with 3m banks to climb up to reach their burrows, the West Coast Blue Penguin Trust says.

The West Coast Regional Council yesterday voted to spend $1.5 million on a seawall to protect Hokitika, and the Grey District Council recently dumped $20,000 of rocks along the foreshore at Blaketown and Karoro. An estimated 100m of land has also gone just north of the Taramakau River.

Penguin trust chairwoman Kerry-Jayne Wilson said erosion on many sandy beaches had created cliff faces of up to 3m along parts of the West Coast.

Department of Conservation marine scientist Don Neale, of Hokitika, said erosion and the rockwork to control it had increased on the Coast.

"The often scrubby areas penguins like to nest in are now being eroded and all that they are left with is the farmland behind."

Penguin trust co-ordinator Inger Perkins said the birds would need to find another way up to their burrows.

- The Greymouth Star

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