By Matilda Robinson
The Blue Penguin is the world's smallest penguin. They only weigh up to about 1.2kg and grow 30cm tall. They feed mainly on small fish, squid and krill. They have a short life span of about 6.5 years.
Blue Penguins (Eudyptula Minor) are commonly found along the south-east coast of Australia and New Zealand. They are a great tourist attraction which you can visit at St. Kilda Beach and Phillip Island. Fairy Penguins are very good at swimming and spend most of their day doing so. They them come onto the shore when it's dark to avoid any predators. They sleep in burrows at about 25 to 30 degrees and return to the water before sunrise.Living on the beach and in the water is quite dangerous for them as they are exposed to many of their predators including seagulls, sharks and seals.
Reproduction: fertilisation and development
Blue penguins have an early maturity age of only 2-3 years. Reproduction usually happens from about June to October. It begins when the male performs a mating call (either alone or in a group) in front of a nest he built to get the females attention. Once a female has chosen a male, they spread their flippers, bow their heads and walk in little circles around the nest. Then they copulate. Blue penguins use internal fertilisation and cross-fertilisation. The sperm passes from the males cloaca to the females and the egg is then fertilised. Once copulation has taken place, the female lays 1-2 eggs in places like ground burrows, rocky cliffs or caves. This means that blue penguins have external development. The eggs are in incubation for 31-40 days. This shows that the blue penguin is oviparous. An advantage of this is that the parents have easy access to food without going to far away from the nest. On the other hand, the eggs are still visible to predators and have a risk of being harmed.
Once hatched, the young stay with their mother and father for a period of 18-38 days known as the guard period. After this, the penguins are only under parental care during the night until the penguin is about 50 days old. Penguins live where they do so they have easy access to their food supply. Penguins are an R selected species as they have a short life expectancy, early maturity and an individual can only produce once.
Cloaca: gentils of animals such as birds and fish
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