Park air flys water for seabird habitat on Big Island

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) helicopter today transported water-filled containers to the Five Islands Nature Reserve off Port Kembla to help grow habitat for penguins and other seabirds.

Park Air helicopter at Port Kembla

Rowena Morris, NPWS Ranger said the water was lifted over to Big Island to provide water for the 5,000 native seedlings planted this winter and the 10,000 seedlings due to be planted next year.

"The containers will stay on the Island till next winter and provide the only source of fresh water at the site," said Dr Morris.

"The water is needed to help grow the seedlings that have been planted following extensive weed control on the Island that is home to Little Penguins and shearwaters.

"The survival of these seabirds is threatened by coastal morning glory and kikuyu grass.

"These weeds trap the seabirds in their underground burrows or wrap around their wings preventing them from flying away or feeding their chicks," Dr Morris said.

Thanks to funding from the NSW Government's Environmental Trust and the Port Kembla Community Investment Fund, NPWS can extend the habitat rehabilitation project to cover 5 hectares, or nearly a quarter of the Big Island Nature Reserve.

"Volunteers from Menai Wildflower Group recently provided 1500 seedlings grown from locally-collected seed.

"Friends of Five Islands volunteers have also been busy planting the native seedlings under the guidance of Berrim Nuru Environmental Management Services," Dr Morris said.

The helicopter operations on Wednesday 25 July were staged at Heritage Park, Gloucester Boulevard, Port Kembla. NPWS thanks NSW Marine Rescue for providing ocean water patrols during the operation.