Conservationists are concerned about new plans to erect a structure on Australia’s Penguin Island. The fear is that it will add to the already-heavy stress on the island’s already-vulnerable birds.
The structure will serve as a “exploration center,” with space for the penguins to nest and a water system to keep them cool when it’s sweltering outside.
According to The Guardian, the new environment minister, Reece Whitby, stated, “The new centre will enable the island and the City of Rockingham to better care for the small penguin residents while safety inviting human visitors.”
Activists, on the other hand, see this as a diversion. They believe that the best course of action is to “leave the island alone.”
The bird population is declining, and half of the chicks died after last year’s breeding season, which could have been avoided, according to activists. Climate change and humans bothering them on the island have also contributed to their decline. There have even been reports of the birds being hit by boats, according to The Guardian.
Dr Joe Fontaine believes the water system and nesting area to be unnecessary, and that the climate change concerns are a diversion. “What we’re seeing here, again and again, is using climate change as an excuse,” Fontaine told The Guardian.
“They’re not acknowledging there are other human impacts going on. The best solution would be to just leave the island alone.”
The birds will generally nest in locations away from humans. During the hot season, when they’re moulting, they like to head into shallow water to wade in because they can’t swim during the moulting. However, if there are a lot of people on the beach, the penguins will stay away and can die from heat exhaustion.
A spokesman for the department is rejecting the notion that the new building will be bad for the penguins.
“The design and location of the new centre is being undertaken in a manner that is sensitive to the resident penguin population and with guidance from researchers and technical experts,” they told the Guardian.
It sounds like they’re not listening to all the experts, however. It seems more likely that they’re more focused on the money that will be made with the project.
This article by Mathew Davis was first published by OneGreenPlanet on 13 February 2022. Lead Image Source : Marco Taliani de Marchio/Shutterstock.
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