St Kilda Breakwater
Constructed for the 1956 Olympics Games, it soon became home to a colony of Little Penguins which currently numbers around 1,400.
Although not constructed with Little Penguins in mind, the volcanic rocks used to construct the breakwater proved to be ideal burrows for Little Penguins:
- The thermal properties of the rocks keep the penguins relatively warm in winter and cool in summer, and
- The gaps between the rocks allow penguins, their eggs and their chick to remain well hidden from seagulls and other potential predators.
Local community concern for the safety of the penguins was instrumental in the formation of Earthcare. Our campaign to formally protect the colony resulted in the St Kilda Breakwater being declared a Wildlife Management Cooperative Area in 1992.
What is a Wildlife Management Cooperative Area?
A Wildlife Management Cooperative Area is a piece of public land which has been set aside to protect native wildlife, such as the St Kilda Little Penguin Colony.
Although you are able to walk along part of the St Kilda breakwater which has been declared a Wildlife Management Cooperative Area, you should be aware of the following restrictions which apply in order to protect the Little Penguin Colony:
- All domestic animals, including dogs on leads, are forbidden from entering the St Kilda breakwater.
- You should not climb on the rocks on the foreshore side of the breakwater; these rocks are home to the Little Penguins.
- No white light, including camera flashlights or torches, can be used when standing on the breakwater; white light shone in the direction of a Little Penguin, whether on land or at sea, will cause it distress.
- All rubbish, including fishing line, must be removed from the breakwater; each year a number of penguins caught in rubbish and discarded fishing line need to be rescued.
Refurbishment of the Breakwater
The refurbishment of the breakwater which commenced in 1998, was a massive four-year project involving 22,000 tonnes of rock. Completed in June 1998, the operation was a complete success, in which left the Little Penguin colony unharmed by the impact of the works, largely due to the hard work by Neil Blake.
Reconstruction of the breakwater eliminated previous vegetation, but knowledge gained in past endeavours to “green” the breakwater had given Earthcare St Kilda a valuable insight into the most appropriate species and methods for replanting in the area.