Southern Rockhopper Penguin

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image: rockhopper.jpg

Common Name: Southern Rockhopper Penguin
Scientific Name: Eudyptes chrysocome

Size: 21 inches (55 cm)

Habitat: Sub-Antarctica; range from islands near New Zealand to islands near South Africa and around South America (Falklands). Found in large colonies on sub-Antarctic islands during the breeding season and they spend their winters at sea.

Status: Vulnerable. Global Population: 500,000-999,999 mature individuals. Increasing disturbance and pollution results from ecotourism and fishing. Food supplies may be affected by squid fisheries, climate change and shifts in marine food webs. In Patagonian coastal waters (an important wintering ground for the Falklands population) hydrocarbon exploitation is a threat. Rock-lobster fisheries have previously used birds for bait. On Auckland, Macquarie and Kerguelen, introduced predators may affect breeding success.

Diet: Fish, krill, and squid.

Nesting: Rockhopper Penguins breed during the spring and summer and the female will lay 2 eggs in a rocky burrow. Usually the first laid, smaller egg is lost during incubation, or if it is retained it usually does not hatch.

The egg is incubated by both parents and after approximately 5 weeks it hatches. The chick is cared for by both parents and it joins a crèche with other chicks when it is approximately 3 weeks old.

When the chick reaches 10 weeks old it will have gained its full adult plumage and is ready to go to sea.

Cool Facts: They earned the name “rock hopper” because they breed on rocky surfaces and need to jump from rock to rock to get wherever they’re going.

Rockhoppers have the largest range and temperature range tolerance for a penguin. They are loud, aggressive birds and they use a call known as "ecstatic vocalization" to attract mates. As well as vocalizing they also communicate by head shaking, bowing, preening, and head and flipper waving.

Predators include blue sharks, fur seals and leopard seals. Eggs and chicks fall prey to skuas, petrels, kelp gulls and other sea birds.


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