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Yellow-Eyed Penguins, Megadyptes antipodes

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Description & Behavior

Yellow-eyed penguins, Megadyptes antipodes (Hombron and Jacquinot, 1841), are an extremely rare species, with a population estimated at only 1,200-1,600 breeding pairs. This species stands 65 cm tall and weighs 5-6 kg, which makes it the 4th largest of all penguin species. They have distinctive yellow eyes and a bright yellow stripe that runs across their eyes and around their heads. Juveniles are similar to adults except for the yellow stripe, which they develop around 1 year.

Yellow-eyed penguins are the least social of all penguin species and do not form breeding colonies, rather they build individual nests in scrub brush or other dense vegetation.

World Range & Habitat

Yellow-eyed penguins, Megadyptes antipodes, are found on the southeast coast of the South Island of New Zealand and south to Campbell Island.

Feeding Behavior (Ecology)

Yellow-eyed penguins, Megadyptes antipodes, feed on small fish such as blue cod, red cod, and silversides and cephalopods such as arrow squid. This species forages during the day and returns to its coastal home at night as far as 1 km inland. They forage in deep water up to 160 m for an average of 4 minutes and up to 50 km offshore.

Life History

Yellow-eyed penguins, Megadyptes antipodes, have a very long breeding season that begins in August with courtship and ends in March with fledgling. They form monogamous pairs and share incubation and brooding duties. In March, the parents spend about a month feeding to gain 2 to 3 kg before molting season begins when they will be confined to the shore for 3 weeks.

Conservation Status & Comments

Over many decades, yellow-eyed penguin populations have been decimated by land mammal predators. However, a number of New Zealand-based conservation efforts are underway and protected areas have been established to ensure the survival of this rare and endangered species.

Yellow-eyed penguins, Megadyptes antipodes, are listed as Endangered B2b(iii)c(iv) (EN) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:

A taxon is Endangered when it is not Critically Endangered but is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future, as defined by any of the criteria (A to E) as described here.

References & Further Research

Center for Biological Diversity: Penguins
Yellow-eyed Penguin, Wikipedia
Yellow-eyed Penguin, Megadyptes antipodes - International Penguin Conservation Working Group
New Zealand Penguins, by Dave Houston

Research Megadyptes antipodes » Barcode of Life ~ Taxonomy ~ BioOne ~ Biodiversity Heritage Library ~ CITES ~ Cornell Macaulay Library [audio / video] ~ Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) ~ ESA Online Journals ~ FishBase ~ Florida Museum of Natural History ~ GBIF ~ Google Scholar ~ ITIS ~ IUCN RedList (Threatened Status) ~ Marine Species Identification Portal ~ NCBI (PubMed, GenBank, etc.) ~ Ocean Biogeographic Information System ~ PLOS ~ SIRIS ~ Tree of Life Web Project ~ UNEP-WCMC Species + Database ~ WoRMS

Search for Yellow-Eyed Penguins » ARKive ~ Flickr ~ Google ~ Creative Commons search ~ Wikipedia ~ YouTube

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