Animals. Torda penguins observed in Corsica and the Mediterranean

A black and white Torda penguin was spotted on Monday in Ajaccio along Saint-François beach. “For a week and a half we have been notified of four individuals, two alive and two dead, in Corsica, the population is very present this year”, indicates Amandine Pericard, head of the U Pettirossu wildlife treatment center, the only center of this type in Corsica.

These are the Torda penguins (also called Little Penguin and whose scientific name is Alca torda), which have been sighted in the port of Bastia, in Cargèse (Corse-du-Sud), near Ajaccio and in St-Florent (Upper Corsica ). “There is an overwintering population of Torda penguins in the Mediterranean Sea, but this year there are quite a few individuals that have come close to the coast, it’s quite exceptional. »

Experts ask

This unusual influx is in fact observed from Spain to the Maritime Alps via Corsica. “These pelagic (deep-sea) birds normally only come ashore to breed. The rest of the time they are proficient in storms, spray, high seas, so it’s quite surprising to see them here,” explains Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, president of the League for the Protection of Birds.

It evokes several hypotheses to explain this phenomenon. « Dans le nord, ils ont des difficultés alimentaires, les ressources en poissons, avec le réchauffement climatique, montent beaucoup plus au nord et pendant la nidification, ils doivent faire des cheminements beaucoup plus lointains pour arriver à find les poissons afin d’alimenter les youth. Are they looking for new food sources? It is possible. ” Another hypothesis, “we have seen seabirds inland that have no place in the world of men after storms or violent winds that had weakened the birds and had blown them away”.

But “what worries me most today are the dangers of bird flu,” he warns. “Many endemic birds such as the gannet, which do not have direct contact with humans such as the thrush penguins, have been affected by bird flu. Perhaps they have been contaminated by the gulls which themselves act as an intermediary between the land and the breeding areas », she suggests, inviting us not «above all not to touch them ».

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