A Brief History Of Little Penguins In Phillip Island

A Brief History Of Little Penguins In Phillip Island

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 07/01/2024

Reading time: 3 mins

Discover more about Phillip Island’s cute little penguins and find out how you can see them!

Little penguins are Australia’s cutest penguins and are also the smallest penguin in the world! Also known as fairy penguins and blue penguins, they weigh under a kilo and are the only penguins with blue and white feathers.

These cute little penguins are found on Phillip Island, as well as parts of southern Australia’s coastline and New Zealand. But what makes Phillip Island so special is it’s the home to the largest colony of little penguins! There are around 40,000 breeding fairy penguins found here!

Before and after European settlement

There were about 10 colonies of little penguins living on Phillip Island before the Europeans settled in Australia. But after settlement, construction began on the island including housing, roads, and land clearing. All of this meant the little penguins were losing their natural habitat. Not only this, but the little penguins had new predators in the form of foxes, which over time led to the disappearance of one of the 10 colonies.

The last colony

As predators increased and construction continued, only one colony remained on the Summerland Peninsula. The little penguins were disappearing at an alarming rate until 1985 when the Victorian Government implemented a 30 year Penguin Protection Plan. This plan aimed to protect the little penguins with the help of the rangers of Phillip Island Nature Parks. Wood boxes were built for the rehabilitation areas of the penguin colonies, native vegetation was planted, and a fox eradication program was initiated.

Little penguins today

Phillip Island Nature Parks continues to manage and protect about 20 per cent of the island and Summerland Peninsula. With the help of tourism, more research is conducted to aid education and environmental management.

A little penguin life

During their daily life, little penguins spend weeks fishing at sea. They eat red cod, young barracouta, squid, and other fish. These little penguins have quite the appetite and can eat 25 per cent of their body weight!

During the breeding season, they spend time on land breeding, nesting, maintaining their burrows, and raising their young. They venture out to sea to catch food for themselves and their offspring.

For your chance to see these cute little penguins, visit the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island. Every evening at sunset, hundreds of penguins waddle up the beach towards their burrows ready for a good night’s rest. You can take a two hour drive from Melbourne or book a Phillip Island tour. The tour will give you the opportunity to spend the day seeing different sights before seeing the little penguins in the evening at the Penguin Parade.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.