Bioresearches was commissioned to undertake a pre-construction survey for penguins as part of the development of the new cruise ship berth in Lyttelton Port. The At Risk – Declining white-flippered penguin, a geographical morph of the little penguin found around Banks Peninsula is known to inhabit the rocky shore in and around the port. Construction of the new cruise ship berth required the existing rock wall to be rebuilt resulting in the temporary loss and disturbance of potential penguin nesting areas. Contractors planned to use small rocks to fill in any potential nesting cavities in the existing rock wall, however, assurances first had to be made that there were no penguins using the area that may become trapped once the small rocks were installed.
A thorough ground search was conducted looking for signs of penguin presence, and for penguins themselves. In addition, motion sensitive infrared cameras were installed to see if penguins were coming ashore during the night. One penguin was captured on the cameras. No physical evidence of this penguin was found in a subsequent manual searches or further infrared camera monitoring therefore the ‘go ahead’ was given to the contractors to fill in the potential nesting cavities. It was likely the penguin captured on the camera was scouting out potential nesting locations for the upcoming nesting season. Filling in these cavities will greatly reduce the likelihood of penguins coming ashore in the zone of works resulting in disruptions to construction and potential penguin injury or mortality. Once the project is complete, the new rock wall will provide more habitat that the penguins may use for nesting and roosting.