You thought they were on the ice but this Saturday, divers observed the little penguins in the port of Nice or even in Antibes this Sunday, in the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer and in Saint-Laurent-du-Var.
“I saw this bird that challenged me because I’m interested in fauna and flora, I know the Torda penguin but, I’ve never seen one”, said Cédric Palerme, diver in Nice. This Saturday morning, as he was preparing to leave the Nice apnea club, Cédric’s eye was caught by an unusual bird: a Torda penguin.
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As he had seen him the day before, Cédric Palerme found the little penguin in the same place the next day. He monitors animal welfare.
© Cédric PALERME / DR
This common North Atlantic bird, is usually seen offshore as it fishes in the open sea, but this time, several individuals came close to the mainland and were filmed by divers. “When I posted my video, I had feedback. Other people saw it in Saint-Laurent-du-Var, in Antibes today and in Villefranche-sur-Mer”he explains.
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Several penguins were photographed at the weekend in Antibes or in Nice. Other specimens were found in several towns on the Côte d’Azur.
©Alice Modolo and Cédric Palerme / DR
According to the specialist Renaud Vauchot, capacity for the care of wildlife birds, the event is not exceptional.
In fact, these penguins can approach the mainland for several reasons: hydrocarbons, the weather or even because they are following a school of fish. “It’s something we’ve already seen in Brittany. Usually they only stay for a few days so we’re waiting to see how it goes”he says.
At the observation referencing site, fauna paca, two people reported seeing specimens yesterday. One of them died near Sanary-sur-Mer. Another dead penguin was discovered in the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer. Another live individual was found near the port of Saint-Tropez.
Although deaths are not uncommon, the capacity holder regrets the lack of investigation into the causes of the two penguins’ deaths. Especially in the midst of the avian flu, he fears the animals will be contaminated. An autopsy can lead to determine whether or not it is necessary to strengthen the measures against the disease.
Especially since these deaths can be dramatic for the species because the animal is so rare. There are only 50 individuals left in mainland France, according to Renaud Vauchot. In 1960, there were still 500 pairs alive, or 1000 penguins. Identifiable in winter by its plump appearance, white cheeks and underside, black wings with white wing bars and black mask under the eyes. Note, this should not be confused with a penguin that cannot fly. Also, at first there were only two types of penguins, the first, the great auk is now extinct. Therefore, these are the last 50 penguins living in metropolitan France, all species combined.
The Torda penguin is a migratory bird and according to the Mission migration network designed by the associations, one of the rarest breeding seabirds in France. According to him, this bird is an endangered species and is protected in France by decree of April 17, 1981, it is also listed in Appendix III of the Rome Convention.
Today, at the request of Renaud Vauchot, Cédric Palerme will watch the little penguin from Nice. He will especially take care that his feathers are tight and that he is not injured by the hooks. As for other penguins, the holder of the capacity has no contact with the observers of these individuals. He regrets that he does not have a structure for water and sea birds because currently there is no possibility to care for this species.
Renaud Vauchot remembered this and asserted: “It is important that people are polite. They should not try to feed them, give them bread or try to play with them”. In case of stress, the animal can put itself in danger, especially since it is not used to contact people and therefore is not afraid.