Nature conservation

Threatened species

Little Penguin in the Manly Point Area (being the area on and near the shoreline from Cannae Point generally northward to the point near the intersection of Stuart Street and Oyama Cove Avenue, and extending 100 metres offshore from that shoreline) - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Eudyptula minor - endangered population
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered Population
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Gazetted date: 27 Oct 2000
Profile last updated: 01 Dec 2017


The smallest penguin species, generally weighing between 1000 and 1200g and standing about 30cm tall. Upper body is slate-blue coloured whilst the underside is white. Flippers are blue-black, with a white trailing edge and white below. The bill is black, feet are pale with black soles, and the eye is silvery grey.


Occurs in Australia and NZ. They generally breed from south of Port Stephens in NSW along the coast through Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and as far as Fremantle in Western Australia. This endangered population occurs from just north of Smedley's Point to Cannae Point, North Sydney Harbour, Manly.

Habitat and ecology

  • Only known breeding population on the mainland in NSW.
  • A range of nest sites are utilised by the penguins at Manly including under rocks on the foreshore, under seaside houses and structures, such as stairs, in wood piles and under overhanging vegetation including lantana and under coral tree roots.
  • Male penguins start returning to the colony in May/June to find or reconstruct a suitable burrow for nesting and to attract females. At this time they may spend all day in their burrows.
  • Time of egg-laying varies slightly from year to year but has been recorded at Manly as early as the first week of June. The peak breeding season however is generally from July to February.
  • Little Penguins usually lay a clutch of 2 white eggs of about 55 g in weight. Although both eggs hatch, usually only one chick fledges successfully. At Manly, however, it is common for both chicks to successfully fledge.
  • It is also common for the Manly penguins to double brood, that is, to produce a second clutch of eggs later in the season after the chicks from the first clutch have fledged.
  • The incubation period varies between 33 and 37 days with the male and female sharing incubation duties and shifts usually lasting 1 to 2 days.
  • For 2 to 3 weeks after the chicks have hatched, adults alternate between remaining in the nest and foraging at sea. The adults swap these guarding and feeding roles each evening.
  • After the chicks have developed enough to maintain their body temperature, they are left unguarded during the day while both adults forage at sea. As the chicks grow, parents visit the nest less often, except for regular evening feedings.
  • Chicks leave the nest after 7 to 9 weeks to mature at sea. Once the young have fledged (left the nest), adults increase their fat stores in preparation for the moult (when they replace their plumage) which usually occurs in February and March..
  • Penguins spend about 2 to 3 weeks ashore when moulting during which time they cannot forage until their new plumage is waterproof. This requires extreme physiological effort and increases energy loss and by the end of the process, they are emaciated.
  • The Manly penguins moult between December and February and it is at this time when they are most vulnerable as they do not always moult deep in the burrows, but often only in shallow depressions.
  • They appear to be opportunistic feeders foraging in relatively shallow waters preying on small schooling fish and squid.
  • Penguins forage closer to their colony and trips are short in duration during the breeding season but may range for days over hundreds of kilometres outside this period.
  • The foraging range and breeding success is very much dependant on the availability and abundance of food.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources


Little Penguin health check at Manly 2012

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
OceanHawkesbury Shelf Known None
OceanSouth Pacific Ocean Predicted None
Sydney BasinPittwater Known None