WHEN Kelly Laflamme and a few friends went to Yallingup break Shallows last week, they could never have guessed what they were about to find.
“We saw something in the ocean and we were wondering what it was,” Kelly said.
“It was struggling so hard in the water, going in and out of shore.”
Finally, it made it into shore and Kelly discovered what it was – a juvenile male Rockhopper penguin, which are normally foreign to this region.
“I was blown away! I thought it was a duck at first,” Kelly said.
“We didn’t know what to do – I was so surprised.
“We took a few photos but he was falling all over the place – we noticed his balance was off and he seemed very discombobulated.
“We called the rangers and they told us to bring him to the vet.
“We wrapped a towel around the little guy and made our way over to the Dunsborough vet’s office.”
The penguin was very lucky that Kelly and her friends saw him.
“He had blisters and sunburn on his feet and a huge bruise on his head,” Kelly said.
“If they hadn’t brought it in it would have definitely died,” said Dunsborough veterinary nurse Melanie Mothersole, who treated the penguin on Friday.
The bird, which was also extremely dehydrated, was treated by the vets for its injuries.
“The day after it was found it seemed a lot brighter,” Melanie said.
The penguin was transferred to Busselton for further rehabilitation, before being moved to Penguin Island in Perth.
Rockhopper penguins are generally found on islands off the coast of South America and Africa, to the south of New Zealand on the Auckland and Antipodes Islands, as well as on islands off the coast of the Antarctic, including Australia’s Heard and Macquarie islands.
“Obviously a current has taken it (away from home),” Melanie said.
“You hardly ever see them down here – I saw one about eight years ago which washed up at Canal Rocks, but this is the next one I’ve seen.
“It was so lost and a long way from home,” Kelly said.
Kelly, who has lived in Dunsborough for the past year, but is originally from Canada, said it was quite an experience.
“It’s the first time I’d ever seen a penguin in the wild,” she said.
“It was really an amazing thing – I’m so happy that we saved him.”
Kelly's friend Olivier (Oli) Labelle....also a Canadian living in Western Australia.