|Did You Know?
This newly split species has been classified as Endangered owing to very rapid population decreases over the last three generations (30 years) throughout its range. Precise reasons for the decline are poorly known, but changes in sea temperature, competition and incidental capture in fisheries and introduced predators are all likely to be implicated. There are two species of Rockhopper penguins, differing in size, length of crest feathers, and the pattern on the underside of their wings.Per the IUCN Red List, according to a 2006 study (molecular analysis using mitochondrial DNA sequencing to test for gene flow barrier between the northern and southern subspecies) there is enough evidence to support classifying the northern rockhopper E. c. moseleyi as a separate species. This data was also accepted following a review by the Bird Life Taxonomic Working Group.
Northern Rockhopper Penguin
Common: Rockhopper penguin, Moseley’s penguin, crested penguin, rockies, jumping jack, pinnamin and long-crested rockhopper.
Scientific: Eudyptes moseleyi
Breed on rugged, rocky islands located in the sub-Antarctic and south temperate regions of the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans.
Euphausiid crustaceans (krill), squid, and small fish.
Rockhoppers are aptly named due to the fact that they hop with extraordinary agility to get around.
Breeding colonies can be large and dense, numbering into the hundreds of thousands. Nests consist of a shallow scrape in the ground lined with pebbles, sticks, or feathers. Two eggs are layed with a marked size difference between them. Eggs are incubated by both parents for 32 – 34 days. The smaller, first egg rarely survives, and is usually discarded before hatching. Parents guard the chick for about 25 days. Chicks then form large groups called crèches for protection while the parents are foraging for food at sea. Chicks remain under the care of their parents until they are about 65 – 75 days old.
Natural: Blue sharks, fur and Leopard seals, and sea lions prey on adults; skuas, giant petrels and gulls prey on eggs and chicks.
Introduced: Rats, cats, and other feral animals prey on adults and chicks.
Conservation Challenges and Solutions:
Control of introduced predators, pollution control, including plastics and oil spills, protection of food stocks from over fishing. Public education and establishment of reserves to curb human infringement on breeding colonies.
Population/IUCN- The World Conservation Union designation:
Endangered population estimated at 424,000 birds.
North American Zoos & Aquariums:
Captive population in North America: 45