Commonly found on sub-Antarctic islands, the bird is said to have molted off the Coorong coast in South Australia.
A penguin in the sun. Last week, birders from the Friends of Shorebirds South East study group were surprised to come face-to-face with a king penguin on a beach in South Australia's Coorong region, thousands of kilometers from its usual habitat, according to reports. Australian television channel ABC News.
King penguins usually live on the coasts of sub-Antarctic islands, but during mating season, these birds choose flat beaches with or without snow to lay eggs, raise chicks and molt.
A small team of eight scientists were surveying the bird population on the Coorong beach when they saw the penguin emerge from the water and head towards the beach.
“He came up to us and did what birders call a display. He put his head back, made a pretty loud call, and then bowed to us,” said Jeff, president of Shorebirds Southeast Friends. Guardian.
According to the ornithologist, the penguin definitely came from a sub-Antarctic island like Macquarie Island, located halfway between Tasmania and Antarctica, before landing in Australia.
The island is home to nearly 120,000 pairs of king penguins, the British daily noted, the latter mainly staying there.
“I wouldn't be surprised if this bird had never seen a human before,” Jeff Campbell told ABC News.
An alarming phenomenon
Although the king penguin appeared to be in good health to the ornithologists of the day, the presence of the birds on Australian beaches was not good news.
“Obviously, this little bird has chosen a place that's much warmer than it normally encounters,” warned Barbara Winecke, a researcher at the Australian Antarctic Division, on Australian television.
According to Dr Julie McInnes from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, global warming could encourage penguins to seek colder waters and therefore migrate to other countries, sometimes far from their colony, according to The Guardian.
The second largest penguin species in the world, king penguins are certainly not to be confused with their cousins, the emperor penguins, which live exclusively around Antarctica, often on the ice.
According to Jeff Campbell, quoted by The Guardian, this incident is not the first. In 2004, a king penguin was spotted in Port McDonnell, South Australia.
“Certified food fanatic. Extreme internet guru. Gamer. Evil beeraholic. Zombie ninja. Problem solver. Unapologetic alcohol lover.”