Little penguins are dying in their hundreds, leading conservationists to fear they are starving as a result of the La Nina weather system.
Other seabirds are washing up dead on beaches, raising concerns that species could become extinct if climate change causes extreme weather events to become more frequent.
At Wellington Zoo, two starving little blue penguin chicks have been brought in this week. One died on Wednesday and the other, found at Lyall Bay, was hanging on to life yesterday.
The zoo’s veterinary science manager, Lisa Argilla, said petrels were also starving around Wellington’s south coast, and five shags had been brought in this month. “They’re unable to find enough food. We’ve had a lot of starvations and a lot of mortalities.”
At Banks Peninsula, hundreds of little white-flippered penguin chicks have died of starvation, according to Shireen Helps, who has been caring for the colony on her property for about 25 years.