|Did You Know?
The Rockhopper penguin belongs to a group of penguins commonly known as crested penguins. All species of crested penguins have heads adorned with yellow feathers. The name Rockhopper describes the way this species hops around the steep, rocky places where they live for part of the year. Rockhoppers are the smallest crested penguin, and most widespread of all penguin species. There are three subspecies of Rockhopper penguins, differing in size, length of crest feathers, and the pattern on the underside of their wings.
Southern Rockhopper Penguin
Common: Rockhopper penguin, crested penguin, rockies, jumping jack, Subspecies described as: Southern and Eastern; also short-crested Rockhopper.
Scientific: Eudyptes chrysocome, which translates as “good diver / golden haired”. Subspecies: E. c. chrysocome and E. c. filholi.
Southern Rockhopper Penguins differ from their Northern counterparts in having a narrower supercilium and shorter plumes, which reach just over the black throat. Their vocalizations are also different. The Southern Rockhopper actually comprises two subspecies that have been described and can be identified in the field: the southern form from South America and the Falkland Islands and the eastern subspecies filholi from the New Zealand sub-Antarctic islands. The eastern form mainly differs from the southern subspecies in having a pink line of fleshy skin along the lower mandible which is black in the southern subspecies. The southern rockhopper penguin species can be further divided into the southern rockhopper (Eudyptes chrysocome chrysocome) and eastern rockhopper (Eudyptes chrysocome filholi) subspecies.
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 overfishing. Public education. Establishment of reserves to curb human infringement on breeding colonies.
Population/IUCN- The World Conservation Union designation:
Vulnerable population estimated at 1,900,000.
North American Zoos & Aquariums:
Captive population in North America: 276
(E. c. filholi is not captively managed)