Rockhopper Penguin

The Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) is a species of penguin which is closely related to the Macaroni Penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus).

The Rockhopper is the smallest yellow-crested, black-and-white penguin, reaching a length of 55cm. Its upperparts are slate-grey and a straight, bright yellow eyebrow ending in long yellowish plumes projecting sideways behind a red eye. This penguin breeds in colonies, from sea-level to cliff-tops, and sometimes inland. Its diet consists of krill, squid, octopus, fish and crustaceans.

There are currently about 3.5 billion pairs of Rockhopper Penguins. The nominate race chrysocome breeds on the Falkland Islands, and on islands off Argentina and southern Chile. The subspecies moseleyi breeds on islands in Tristan da Cunha, and Amsterdam and St Paul Islands. The subspecies filholi breeds on the Prince Edward Islands, the Crozet Islands, the Kerguelen Islands, Heard Island, Macquarie Island, and Campbell, New Zealand and Antipodes Islands.

The status of this species is vulnerable due to a fall of 24% in its population in the last thirty years.

As their name suggests, they spend their time hopping over rocks. When they were discovered the explorers were amused when they saw the penguins jumping all over the place.

The scientific name for the Rockhopper penguin is sometimes given as Eudyptes crestatus.