Southern Rockhopper Penguin


Eudyptes chrysocome

Vulnerable (IUCN)
This is an appropriate designation for this species at this time. Current protection consists of marine protected areas/reserves, monitoring of populations, and ecological and demographic studies.

Conservation Concerns

Increasing disturbance and pollution from ecotourism and fishing. Food supplies may be affected by fisheries, climate change and shifts in marine food webs. Oil exploration and exploitation. Massive mortality event on the Falklands in 2002/03 was due to a Harmful Algal Blooms. Hydrocarbon exploitation. Rock-lobster fisheries have previously used birds for bait. Commercial fishing – food availability decreased. Introduced predators may affect breeding success. Global climate changes are causing a decrease in primary productivity and an increase in sea surface temperatures (SST). There has been a population decrease in this species throughout its range. Precise reasons for the declines are poorly known.

Possible Actions

Continue to monitor or start to monitor populations to assess trends. Conduct studies to assist in interpreting population changes. Conduct studies to assess the impacts of interactions with commercial fisheries. Investigate the impact of introduced species at breeding colonies and eradicate introduced species where necessary. Investigate the impact of oil exploration and exploitation. Study the impacts of climate change. Reduce disturbance from ecotourism. Create more marine protected areas. Reduce/exclude large scale commercial fishing from within prescribed distances from penguin breeding locations.




Descriptive Characteristics
Adult Plumage
Males and females are similar. They have a thinner, yellow supercillium (than the Northern Rockhopper) with shorter plumes and red eyes.

Juvenile Plumage
They have a faint yellow stripe above their eyes and the red brown bill of adults. They have a pale, mottled gray chin.

Chick Plumage
The chicks lack the yellow crest and the red-brown bill of adults. Their bills are black. They have grey-black backs and white fronts.

Calls are noisy, aggressive and demonstrative; raucous, braying sounds; more strident, pulsed squeaks, separated by shorter periods of silence; shrill and unmusical. Four types of calls exist — contact, sexual, agonistic and chick.

Sexual Dimorphism
There is a very small degree of sexual dimorphism between the sexes. The females are slightly smaller with an average female to male bill depth ratio of .85.


Male Measurements
Weight: 3 kg
Height: 52.00 cm
Beak: 4.83 cm
Flipper: 17.40 cm
Foot: 11.70cm

Female Measurements
Weight: 2.50 kg
Height: 52.00 cm
Beak: 4.16 cm
Flipper: 16.90 cm
Foot: 10.85cm

Breeding Biology 


Average Arrival Date: October 30

Nest and nest materials: Nests are located on rocky slopes and amongst tussocks; sometimes in small caves and amongst crevices. A small nest is built from tussock, peat and pebbles.
Average Egg Laying Date: December 15
Egg Weight: 76.50 grams
Egg Length: 6.21 cm
Egg Breadth: 5.03 cm
Second Egg Weight: 108.00 grams
Second Egg Length: 7.15 cm
Second Egg Breadth: 5.33 cm
Incubation Period: 33 days
Chick Period: 70 days
Fledging Period: March 1 to March 31
Average Annual Reproductive Success: 1 chick/nest
Age at First Breeding: 4 years
Maximum Lifespan: 30 years
Average Lifespan: 10 years
Molt: The molt is variable depending on the location of the colony and whether there was a failed breeding or the animal was a non-breeder. The length of the molt is approximately 23 to 30 days. The adult molt is post-nuptial on the breeding sites and follows a pre-molt period at sea of 20-30 days.

They prefer crustaceans (euphausids), small fish and cephalopods (squid).There is a variability of prey resources at sea for this species and subsequent opportunism of this penguin species to exploit what is differentially available.

Predators on land of eggs, chicks
They are preyed upon by great skuas, brown skuas, striated caracaras, kelp gulls, dolphin gulls and turkey vultures.
Predators at sea of adults
They are preyed upon by fur seals, Southern sea lions, leopard seals, blue sharks and giant petrels.
Predators at sea of juveniles
They are preyed upon by fur seals, Southern sea lions, leopard seals, blue sharks and giant petrels.
Predators at sea on fledglings
They are preyed upon by fur seals, Southern sea lions, leopard seals, blue sharks and giant petrels.