Sea life sanctuary forced to issue statement after lines jammed with 'penguin' sightings off Scarborough, North Yorkshire
2:50PM GMT 20 Jan 2015
A sea life sanctuary has been forced to ask bird spotters to stop jamming the phone lines with reports of penguins off the Yorkshire coast.
The Sanctuary in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, has been bombarded with calls asking if any of its resident Humboldt penguins had escaped after sightings of penguin-like birds.
The calls have forced the centre to release a statement explaining it as a simple a case of mistaken identity.
Senior aquarist Todd German said: "We get a few calls every year from people mistaking razorbills and guillemots for their flightless cousins from the southern hemisphere.
"This year we've been more than usually inundated because of exceptionally large numbers of 'little auks' appearing close to shore on their migration from the Arctic down to wintering grounds in the North Atlantic.
"Though not much bigger than a starling, the little auk looks even more like a penguin, especially if viewed from a distance and its size isn't obvious.
"They usually pass our shores a long way out to sea, but winter gales have brought them closer in this winter."