Typical college credit can consist of lecture in a classroom or even field trips to local areas. However, the biology department knows that it can look different. For Emily Milton, college credit looks like penguins.
Over the summer, she went to Tasmania, an island state in southern Australia, to study their habits and hopefully take them away from the verge of extinction.
Time in Tasmania
The little blue penguin, also known as the fairy penguin, is the smallest type of penguin. They journey to southern Tasmania each year to nest. Dr. Mary-Anne Lea, from the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), has been studying migratory marine animals her whole career.
Milton was able to contribute to Lea’s research when she went to Kingston, Tasmania on a study away trip. Each month, Lea monitored the penguins and their nests on a secluded section of Boronia Beach. Locals try to keep the penguins a secret to prevent tourists from damaging the habitat.
As if witnessing tiny wild penguins wasn’t exciting enough, Milton was also able to help locate two new nests that had not yet been recorded by IMAS.
Finding more nests and determining definitively that the population is growing is good news. Cats, dogs and other predators have been steadily taking out this small bird. Within the last 5 years, the population has started to replenish, partly due to a predator-proof fence that keeps potential predators off the beach.