Did you know that there are little penguins nesting within one kilometre of Wrest Point?


In the urban environment of the Derwent estuary penguins have largely escaped our notice.

There are, however, a number of penguin nesting sites along the Derwent foreshore. Penguins not only nest in patches of remnant of native vegetation, they can also make the most of the shelter provided by boat sheds, wood piles and stone walls.


However, the future of penguins in the Derwent estuary is not assured. Stray cats and roaming dogs continue to take their toll. Earlier this year a dog killed eight penguins at one Derwent nesting site. The clearing of foreshore vegetation also takes its toll.


Many people don't know that they live in close proximity to penguins, or that the place they walk their dog might be a penguin nesting site. Learning more about these charismatic creatures is essential if we are to ensure their survival in the Derwent estuary. If living near the foreshore, or walking dogs on the foreshore, take notice of 'no dogs' signage. Your dog may be walking through penguin habitat. The smell that dogs leave behind can deter penguins from retuning to the area. Keeping dogs and cats under control at all time, especially at night, will also help to ensure that penguins remain in the Derwent.


Now is the time of year when penguins return to nesting sites in preparation for the breeding season. Male penguins are renovating old nesting burrows or digging new ones. Noisy courtship displays are greeting returning females. From now on the focus of the penguins will be on incubating eggs and raising young.


Penguins once thrived in the Derwent. The penguins that remain are not only a testament to the endurance of these charismatic creatures, but also indicate that the Derwent foreshore is an attractive environment for penguins. In fact, one third of the Derwent foreshore retains its native vegetation. It is wonderful to still have penguins in the Derwent. However, their vulnerability cannot be underestimated. Continued community awareness and action is required to ensure their survival in the Derwent estuary.


Recommended steps of action:


Call the Penguin Hotline if you have information about where penguins nest in the Derwent estuary, or about where penguins have nested in the past. Call 0427 PENGUI (0427 736 484).


If you see penguins remember not to frighten them by getting too close, not to shine light directly at them, and keep your dog under control.










§         wear dark clothing for camouflage

§         approach the observation point from the land, preferably not walking along the beach as this blocks the access to their burrows

§         use existing tracks - don't damage vegetation

§         choose a viewing position at least 3m from the burrows

§         remain quiet and keep movement to a minimum

§         never use flash cameras

§         only use dim torches that emit a red light - use red cellophane over the lens if needed

§         never visit a colony with dogs or cats




Marine Conservation Officer Doctor Aleks Terauds examines fairy penguins mauled at Lower Sandy Bay beach.



Useful websites


Phillip Island Nature Park

This site includes kids activities, scientific research, methods and results, as well as general information on the Phillip Island Nature Park in Victoria, renowned for its fairy penguins.

This website highlights how humans and penguins can successfully live side by side.


Tasmania's Parks and Wildlife Service

This site has a wealth of information on National Parks and Reserves, World Heritage, the rich wildlife, plants, landformsof Tasmania, as well as the many recreational opportunities within the State. Use this website to download a great little penguin fact sheet and Penguin Watching Guidelines.

For information and management guidelines on little penguin habitat.


Derwent Estuary Program


Places to Visit


Burnie Observation Centre

See Little Penguins in their natural habitat at the Little Penguin Observation Centre, located at Parsonage Point, Burnie.

Prepare to be surprised - right next to the bustling Burnie CBD is a colony of little penguins going about their lives right before your eyes. The Observation Centre lets you experience these fascinating birds firsthand, any time of the day or night - for free! Guided tours can be arranged by appointment.


For further information on viewing little penguins or platypus, email: