Our Research

Our monitoring programme began in 1993 and involves a weekly check of every nesting box in two little blue penguin colonies that we manage. More in-depth research began in 2009 when all the data from our monitoring was analysed and other projects were established to learn more about the penguins.


Our penguins can be identified with either a flipper band or a microchip inserted underneath the skin. Each week we record the identification number of the penguin in each nesting box, and we record the number of eggs and chicks present.

We also weigh some chicks each week to monitor their growth. 

The data has been analysed and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.




Results from our research

We found that our penguins have breeding success rates amongst the highest recorded for the species. On average the penguins fledge just under 2 chicks per pair every year. Our populations are growing at a rate of around 9% annually.

We know from our research, that drops in the population through time have been the result of severe winter storms.

During a storm, we believe the penguins have trouble foraging because their prey are difficult to catch in murky water. This can impact their breeding success and survival.



Penguin tracking project

One of our research projects involved tracking the penguins at sea, in order to learn more about their lives. This involves attaching a small data-logger that records their location, dive depth, acceleration and surrounding temperature.

We have learnt all kinds of interesting things that you can read about here on our website




Other research sponsorship

With help from our corporate sponsor, China Travel Services, we paid for five penguin tracking devices for a University of Otago PhD student, who is working with yellow-eyed penguins. Yellow-eyed penguins are endangered and declining in numbers in New Zealand. Mel aimed to find out about their foraging locations at sea, to find out ways of improving their survival.