If you’ve ever watched those wildlife documentaries and thought it’d be great to be out there working as an animal researcher, well on Phillip Island you can!
Phillip Island Nature Park is home to one of Australia’s most enjoyable attractions, the penguin parade. The 2750ha park is a wildlife haven, with unique wildlife experiences, wetlands and a truly beautiful coastline, as well as penguins. Walking tracks and boardwalks allow close-up viewing.
Beaches offer consistently good surfing conditions, as well as snorkelling and diving. Visitors can hire a bike, sea kayak or take a guided eco-active tour from the rockpools to the wetlands, from the beaches to the bush.
People have been enjoying watching the little penguins at Summerland Beach since around 1928. Research began in 1968 to provide answers to questions such as “how long do penguins live” and “do they mate for life”? The answer to the first is that they live for six to seven years and to the second, most stay with the same mate each season. They have a divorce rate of 18-20 percent.
Penguin Researcher for a Day is the first time the public has been invited to participate in the Nature Park’s research and management programs.
A full day is spent with a ranger and research staff on the Summerland Peninsula. At 6.30pm you head to the beach to start your head count. Eighty percent of the little birds toddle up the beach in the first 50 minutes after sunset. You will be in the exclusive commentary box while this happens. You check the birds’ burrows and count the number of eggs which have hatched.
Penguins are bagged and taken to the research facility to be weighed and establish their sex and if not already fitted, receive an electronic tag. That way, their progress, weight and direction are recorded at dusk and dawn and it can be seen how long they fish and how much food they bring for their young. They use two routes on Phillip Island, named Highway 1 and Highway 2.
Participating in this program not only is the experience of a lifetime, but all money goes directly to little penguin research.
Accommodation at a nearby B&B, all meals, safety equipment and transport are included in the cost. Participants must be over 18 years of age.