A king penguin that mysteriously travelled 6000km to Australia has left animal experts baffled.
The Friends of Shorebirds South East (FOSSE) had just completed a survey of local wildlife along the Coorong, a stretch of coastline south of Adelaide, on January 15, when the Antarctic penguin suddenly appeared from the water.
Despite being a long way from home, the aquatic bird was fearless enough to walk up to the group’s car before making ‘strange braying calls’.
The same holidaying penguin visited fisherman Steve Jenkins a couple weeks later on Australia Day at Wreck Crossing, along the Coorong.
A king penguin has shocked a group of local bird watchers after emerging from the waters along the Coorong, a stretch of coastline south of Adelaide on January 15 (pictured)
FOSSE’s president, Jeff Campbell, said the penguin could have landed on the beach to moult – a three-four week process where all of the bird’s feathers are replaced.
Mr Campbell said the bird approached them, seemingly out of curiosity, and that he ‘wouldn’t be surprised if this bird has never seen a human before’.
‘It’s come from a sub-Antarctic island like Heard Island or Macquarie Island and has landed here, so probably never encountered a human before and didn’t know humans could be dangerous,’ he told the ABC.
Footage of the encounter by Mr Jenkins shows the penguin slowly waddling along the sand just metres away from the fisherman.
He told the national broadcaster that the bird stayed for a couple of hours until he started to pack up and leave.
Mr Jenkins posted the footage to a locals Facebook page with the caption ‘the things that say hello on Australia Day’.
The penguin was about 6,000km away from it’s natural habitat in Antarctica and was surprisingly curious to get close and personal with locals (pictured)
Seeing a king penguin on Australian shores is extremely rare, with only two recorded sightings in the past 40 years.
The last sighting was in 2004 at Port MacDonnell, near the Victorian border, and prior to that was in 1987 near the Canuda National Park, west of Mount Gambier.
What would usually be a once in a lifetime event was instead the second time seeing a king penguin for FOSSE’s secretary Maureen Christie was also present for the 2004 sighting.
Ms Christie said the penguin’s current location is currently unknown and urged beachgoers to not get to close to the penguin if they encounter it.
She also said that dogs are a particular danger to the animals as they would likely be inquisitive of them and could be attacked.