Penguins can live in almost any climate on earth. They live in hot climates like the Galapagos Islands and South Africa. They also live in the coldest places on earth. Yet several species are endangered. These include the: Yellow-eyed Penguin, Northern Rockhopper Penguin, African Penguin, Galapagos Penguin, and Erect-crested Penguin.
El Niño warming events and climate change are a big threat to penguins in the Galapagos Islands (near Ecuador). Lower fish populations are a consequence of El Niño, and result in penguin starvation, and abandonment of chicks. Relatively few, or no chicks, can be born during El Niño years. In 1982-3, and 1997-8, as many as 60% of penguins perished.
Galapagos penguins are a smaller penguin breed. They weigh about 9 lbs (4 kg) and can be 20 in (50 cm) tall. Dr. Dee Boersma, of the University of Washington, and her team, successfully increased Galapagos penguin numbers in 2010. The 120 nests in stacked lava rocks and tunnels dug on Fernandina, Bartolomé Island, and the Mariela Islands, were successful in increasing Galapagos penguin numbers.
The distinctive erect-crested Penguin has cute yellow feathers above its eyes, and lives primarily in New Zealand. Much more common in the early, to mid 20th century. Their numbers are thought to have declined by half, and there are worries that a single weather event–like a hurricane–could lead to their extinction.
Erect-crested penguins are about two feet tall (60 cm) and weigh approximately 13 lbs (6 kg). They are listed as endangered by the ICUN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).
Rare yellow-eyed penguins are also found in New Zealand. Yellow-eyed penguins breed annually, and often produce two eggs. Yellow-eyed penguin chicks do not leave the nest until they are about a year old, and grow to about 30 inches (75 cm) in height.
Stress on parents and chicks due to ecotourism, egg-stealing by cats, ferrets, stoats, and dogs; as well as disease and habitat loss are taking a heavy toll on yellow-eyed penguins. They are also listed as endangered.
NORTHERN ROCKHOPPER PENGUIN
Rockhopper Penguin have large plumages of yellow feathers above their eyes that flare out from their bills to the back of their heads. They are small penguins, and have red eyes, black crests on their heads. Adults weigh approximately 3 kg (6 lbs), and are 20 inches (55 cm) tall.
The Northern Rockhopper penguin species saw a decline of 96 percent on the remote Gough and Tristan de Cunha Islands (in the south Atlantic Ocean), and are classified as endangered by the ICUN. Commercial and driftnet fishing, climate change, nest disturbance, oil pollution, and increased fur seal predation have been blamed.
International fishing near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa was blamed for an African penguin population crash in the 2010s. As few as 50,000 may only still be alive today. Not only are penguins caught in fishing nets as bycatch, but African penguins are also starving, due to scarcity of fish, like anchovies and sardines.
African penguins have pink sweat glands around their eyes. The glands in these pink eye areas can help a penguin deal with higher temperatures, by allowing the blood to be cooled in the area. Adults can weigh as much as about 8 lbs (3.5 kg), and can range up to 30 inches (70 cm) tall. African penguins can be loud, and bray like donkeys.
LITTLE BLUE PENGUIN
The Little Blue Penguin is a smaller penguin species. It grows only to about a foot tall (30 cm) and weighs up to 3 lbs (1.5 kg).
In New South Wales, Australia–unlike New Zealand–Little Blue or Fairy penguins–are protected by the 1995 Threatened Species Act. NSW is also the site of a Recovery Plan started in 2000.
Unfortunately, even during the Covid-19 Pandemic, when many of us see the beauty of nature as being even more important, the developer of a marina in Waiheke Island is disturbing a colony of Little Blue Penguins. Regrettably, Fairy Penguins return to the spot that they were born, to nest, and rear their young.
Flabbergasted nature groups have petitioned the Supreme Court to prevent the eviction of the little birds. Wildlife rescuer Karen Saunders could not believe it when she received a phone call from the developer telling her to take the Little Blue Penguins away. Ms. Saunders had no idea where the penguins could be relocated to, and has commented that the developer provided no funds to even do it. The SKP or Save Kennedy Point organization is opposed to the new marina. Developers claim that they are being helped by the Hauraki Islands Branch of the Forest and Bird organization, but Ms. Saunders has commented that it is not true.
Penguin habitat on Waiheke Island could be destroyed for marina plans. (2021, June 14). New Zealand Herald. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/penguin-habitat-on-waiheke-island-could-be-destroyed-for-marina-plans/LN7JOMVQ6TBBWFZOS4LZ2ZRPXA/
Broken Homes and Hearts: The Little Blue Penguins Of Waiheke Island. (2021, April 15). Scoop Media. https://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL2104/S00063/broken-homes-and-hearts-the-little-blue-penguins-of-waiheke-island.htm
African penguin declared Endangered. (2012, June 2). National Geographic. https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2010/06/02/african-penguin-declared-endangered/
Northern Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes moseleyi. (2021, May 7). BirdLife International. http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/northern-rockhopper-penguin-eudyptes-moseleyi
Rockhopper penguin. (2021). Brittanica. https://www.britannica.com/animal/rockhopper-penguin
Yellow-eyed Penguins – one of the rarest penguins in the world. (2020, January 21). Penguins International. https://www.penguinsinternational.org/2020/01/21/yellow-eyed-penguins-one-of-the-rarest-penguins-in-the-world/
Erect-crested Penguin. (2021). Penguin World. https://www.penguinworld.com/types/erect.html
Erect-crested Penguin. (2021, April 14). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erect-crested_penguin
Meet 5 of the world’s most endangered penguins.(2018, April 25). Marine Conservation Society. https://www.mcsuk.org/news/5-most-endangered-penguin-species
Galapagos Penguin Conservation. (2021). Galapagos Conservancy. https://www.galapogos.org
Galapagos Penguin. (2021). Oceana.https://oceana.org/marine-life/seabirds/galapagos-penguin