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Rockhopperpenguin, Eudyptes chrysocome    

Rockhopper Penguin   Springpingvin  Rotspinguïn    Gorfou Sauteur Felsenpinguin
  Klippehopperpingvin  Pinguino de Penacho Amarillo

Rockhopper penguin in Edinburgh Zoo
Photo: Sean Mack

In the past, the three Rockhopper Penguin species were considered subspecies, but they are now considered full species. The subspecies recognized in the past were:
Tthe Western Rockhopper Penguin, Eudyptes chrysocome chrysocome, or American Southern Rockhopper Penguin
It occurs in subantarctic waters of the western Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as around the southern coasts of South America.

The Eastern Rockhopper Penguin, Eudyptes chrysocome filholi, or Indopacific Southern Rockhopper Penguin - breeds on subantarctic islands of the Indo-Pacific Ocean: Prince Edward, Crozet, Kerguelen, Heard, Macquarie, Campbell, Auckland
and the Antipodes Islands.

Rockhopper penguin colony on Saunders Island, Falkland Islands
Photo: Ben Tubby

The Northern Rockhopper Penguin, Eudyptes chrysocome moseleyi. More than 99% of Northern Rockhoppers breed on
Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island in the south Atlantic Ocean.
A study published in 2009 showed that the world population of the Northern Rockhopper had declined by 90% since the 1950s.
For this reason, the Northern Rockhopper Penguin is classified as an Endangered species.

The Rockhopper penguin is the smallest yellow-crested, black-and-white penguin in the genus Eudyptes.
It reaches a length of 45-58 cm (18-23 in) and typically weighs 2-3.4 kg (4.4-7.5 lb), although there are records of exceptionally
large rockhoppers weighing 5 kg (11 lbs). It has slate-grey upper parts and a straight, bright yellow eyebrow ending in long
yellowish plumes projecting sideways behind a red eye.

Western Rockhopper Penguins have a global population of roughly 1 million pairs. About two-thirds of the global population belongs to this former subspecies which breeds on the Falkland Islands and on islands off Argentina and southern Chile.
These penguins feed on krill, squid, octopus, lantern fish, molluscs, plankton, cuttlefish, and mainly crustaceans.

A rockhopper penguin named "Rocky" in Bergen Aquarium in Norway, lived to 29 years 4 months. It died in October 2003.
This stands as the age record for rockhopper penguins, and possibly it was the oldest penguin known.

Rockhopper incubating egg
Photo: Dave Houston, www.penguin.net.nz

The Western Rockhopper Penguin is classified as Vulnerable species by the IUCN. Its population has declined by about one-third
in the last thirty years. However, the Northern Rockhopper's population is only a fraction of that of the Western Rockhopper
Penguin, and consequently the status of the latter is unchanged by the taxonomic split.

A study published in 2009 showed that the world population of the Northern Rockhopper had declined by 90% since the 1950s,
possibly because of climate change, changes in marine ecosystems and overfishing for squid and octopus by humans.
Other possible factors in the decline include disturbance and pollution from ecotourism and fishing, egg-harvesting,
predation from introduced House Mice, Mus musculus, and predation and competition from Subantarctic Fur Seals, Arctocephalus tropicalis. The Northern Rockhopper Penguin is classified as Endangered because of the decline in numbers over the last three
generations (or 30 years).

Spread wings help dissipate heat
Photo: Dave Houston, www.penguin.net.nz

Their common name refers to the fact that, unlike many other penguins which get around obstacles by sliding on their bellies
or by awkward climbing using their flipper-like wings as aid, Rockhoppers will try to jump over boulders and across cracks.
This behaviour is by no means unique to this species however - at least the other "crested" penguins of the genus Eudyptes
hop around rocks too. But the Rockhopper's congeners occur on remote islands in the New Zealand region, whereas the
rockhopper penguins are found in places that were visited by explorers and whalers since the Early Modern era.
Hence, it is this particular species in which this behavior was first noted.

Their breeding colonies are located from sea-level to cliff-tops and sometimes inland. Their breeding season starts in
September and ends in November. Two eggs are laid but only one is usually incubated.[1] Incubation lasts 35 days and their
chicks are brooded for 26 days.


As in many penguin species, male Rockhoppers are capable of producing 'milk' from their digestive systems which they then
regurgitate for their chicks when the female is away hunting for food.

Gypsy Cove,
Both macaroni and rockhopper penguins feed mostly on krill, but partially switch to fish
and squid when they feed their chicks, or when krill populations crash. They usually dive
to 10-80 m, and are are more migratory than king pingviner. Their breeding season is
highly synchronized breeding season, with all eggs in a colony laid within 2-3 weeks.
Birds start arriving to colonies in October, and leave in late February-March.
Unlike king pingviner, they build nests of grass and pebbles and lay two eggs.
The first egg is usually smaller and seldom hatches. The numbers of both species are
apparently stable at the moment.

Copyright © Vladimir Dinets

The above text is composed from pages linked to Wikipedia's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockhopper_penguin


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