Tawaki Project report tawaki 2020 05

After six years of exciting and evolving research, The Tawaki Project has released a summary report noting varied foraging ecology and population dynamics across the breeding range.

The project’s research revealed that the penguins show highly adaptable at-sea behaviour allowing them to forage successfully in open pelagic (West coast), constricted fjord ecosystems (Milford Sound/Piopiotahi), as well as shallow coastal marine habitat (Whenua Hou/ Codfish Island).

Satellite tracking of tawaki during the nonbreeding period showed that birds from different breeding regions all travel southwards to forage along the Subantarctic Front. Hence, outside the breeding season, odds are even for penguins from all regions. Any regional differences in population developments, therefore, are likely tied to breeding and reproductive success.

The next phase of the Tawaki Project will investigate how the penguins fit into the marine ecosystem of New Zealand’s fjords, and whether Fiordland provides a safe haven for tawaki in an era of substantial global changes.

Last season, the team again deployed trackers on tawaki in Fiordland and from birds found on the East Coast moulting and or in need of assistance and found that their movements varied according to starting point or whether they had received rehabilitation. More work is required to draw meaningful conclusions.

Read the full report here and enjoy the wonderful photographs too.