Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The loneliest penguin in the world: 'Lost' Emperor swims on to beach in New Zealand after 4,000-mile wrong turn


A long way from home: An Emperor Penguin waddles along Peka Peka beach in New Zealand after becoming lost while swimming in the Southern Ocean

Somewhere along the way, as it swam through the icy waters of Antarctica, a young emperor penguin took a wrong turn - and ended up in New Zealand.

The black and white bird came ashore on a beach in the south of the North Island nearly 4,000 miles away from its usual habitat.

There are two dozens colonies of the penguins in Antarctica, but this is the first time for 44 years a 'vagrant' bird has turned up in New Zealand.

Which way to Antarctica? The 2ft bird is believed to have become lost while hunting for squid and krill among ice floes and its epic journey may have taken up to a month

The creature's astonishing journey was witnessed by a woman walking her dog as the 2ft bird waddled out of the water in front of her.

Christine Wilton stumbled across the nautical wanderer on Peka Peka beach.
She said: 'It was out of this world to see it.

'It was this glistening white thing standing up on the sand and I thought I was seeing things.'

The tale of the lost penguin is similar to the 2006 children's film Happy Feet, in which a young penguin finds himself far from home during a voyage of discovery.

Voyage of discovery: The penguin's journey is similar to the story of the children's film Happy Feet, where the main character finds himself far from home

Conservationists believe it has completed an incredible journey for such a young bird - it is estimated to be around 10 months old.

The most likely explanation for for its appearance in New Zealand is the hunt for food.

The emperor penguin - a species discovered during Captain James Cook's 19th century voyage - may have been searching for squid and krill and got lost among the ice floes of Antarctica.

They almost never make landfall near humans so it is likely that this one decided it had had enough of swimming through the Southern Ocean and had come ashore.

Experts said it may also have rested on an ice floe during its travels and was carried north for a great distance before it made a swim for dry land.

Emperor penguins can swim at up to 15mph. But because it would have had to rest at time and would not have been able to swim at that speed for long, its wayward journey would have taken more than a month.

source :dailymail

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