Geo News

Coin helps rare penguin

The treasury’s 1988 coin issue is helping the cause of the yellow-eyed penguin. Though Treasury probably won't part with any cash for the cause, the new one dollar coin will increase public awareness of the threatened species. The coin, designed by Waikanae artist Maurice Conly, shows penguins in a typical shoreline situation. Only 18,500 sterling silver coins have been struck, with a further 45,000 coins struck in cupro-nickel. None will be circulated as everyday currency. The silver coin is selling at $46 and the other at $4.50. In issuing the new coin Treasury is joining various groups and individuals led by the Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust in a campaign to increase public awareness, gain additional knowledge and increase habitat protection for what is arguably the world's rarest penguin. Known in Maori as the Hoiho, or "noise-shouter", the yellow-eyed penguin grows to about 60cm and is the largest of New Zealand's five native penguins. There is an estimated population of only 5000, with 700 thought to be mainland dwellers and the rest located on Stewart Island and the subantarctic Auckland and Campbell Islands. (See "Life on Campbell Island", pages 35-38). It is found only in New Zealand waters and is not closely related to the world's 15 other penguin species. Sedentary by nature, the adult birds remain close to their breeding grounds throughout the year. Only the juveniles travel north up to 500km to winter feeding grounds. Loss of natural breeding ground is the main cause of population decline. Land clearing, disturbance by man and grazing animals, predators and changing climate and ocean conditions are the main influences. Worldwide attention will be focused on the yellow-eyed penguin in December 1990 when it will feature as the logo of the 20th International Ornithological Congress in Christchurch.

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