Penguins injured, washed up on Victoria's south coast
Little penguins have been injured and found washed up on Victoria's south coast after unseasonably severe weather over the weekend.
Little penguins have washed up on beaches in Victoria after severe weather conditions over the weekend.
Authorities were alerted to multiple cases of the small birds being injured yesterday.
Melbourne Zoo's Marine Response Unit was able to rescue 13 penguins, but sadly six have since died.
Phillip Island Nature Parks took five underweight penguin chicks into their care and are continuing to look after them.
Phillip Island Nature Parks Research Technical Officer, Paula Wasiak, said that, while it was distressing to see fledgling chicks in distress, this is a normal occurrence at this time of year.
"The weekend was the perfect storm of the great breeding season producing more chicks out at sea than normal, and wild weather," Ms Wasiak said.
"Only 18 per cent of chicks survive their first year of life, with starvation being the main cause of death as they are not taught by their parents to feed."
Dr Peter Dann, Nature Parks Research Director has been monitoring the population for over 30 years.
"Little penguins are quite vulnerable in their first year. When they fledge at eight to eleven weeks old they are on their own and that inexperience can often result in mortality," said Dr Dann said.
"The good news for the Phillip Island population is that breeding success is up. Long-term data indicates, on average, 0.95 chicks successfully fledge per breeding pair."
Victoria's weekend of wild weather saw huge snowfall across mountains in the Alpine region and enormous swells batter the south coast.
The Spirit of Tasmania battled against the waves, footage showing the ferry almost completely engulfed by the Bass Strait.
Waves up to 15 metres high were recorded in the west of Tasmania.
Miriam Bradbury from the Bureau of Meteorology said such substantial swells at this time of year was unusual.
"The last time we saw swells this high through western Bass Strait was around 2011," Ms Bradbury said.
Anyone who sees a Little Penguin washed up or in distress is asked to call Melbourne Zoo's Marine Response Unit on 1300 245 678.