Rockhopper penguin decline

This video from the Falkland islands is called [Southern] Rockhopper Penguins Make Landfall.

From BirdLife:

Penguins are walking an increasingly rocky road


A new study, published in BirdLife International’s journal, Bird Conservation International, has revealed that the Northern Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes moseleyi – which is principally found on UK territories in the South Atlantic – has declined by 90% over the last 50 years. …

There is concern that the British Government will not put any great effort or resources into wildlife conservation for the United Kingdom’s overseas territories. Meetings held so far between ministers from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Department for International Development have failed to reach agreement.

“They are completely disinterested,” said Sarah Sanders, the RSPB’s Overseas Territories Officer, said. “It’s ridiculous and embarrassing. We are meant to be world leaders in biodiversity conservation and we can’t even decide who is responsible for the overseas territories.”

The Northern Rockhopper Penguin population on Gough is estimated at 32,000 to 65,000 pairs, with another 40,000 to 50,000 pairs on Tristan. These two strongholds account for more than 80% of the world population, the rest are found on two French-administered islands, St Paul and Amsterdam in the Indian Ocean, and are declining just as rapidly.

Rockhopper penguin populations are in serious decline worldwide, and the causes have been largely unknown. BirdLife is launching a new report which identifies the key threats, and outlines the steps which must be taken to help save rockhopper penguins: here.

There are two species of Rockhopper Penguins live in the Indian, South Atlantic and Pacific Oceans – the Northern Rockhopper Penguin and the Southern Rockhopper Penguin. Both of these species have been disappearing from the southern oceans: here.

Southern Rockhopper Penguins Listed as Threatened Species; Climate Change Protections Needed: here.

Breeding success of Northern Rockhopper Penguins (Eudyptes moseleyi) at Gough Island, South Atlantic Ocean: here.

Penguins threatened by massive soya bean spill in South Atlantic. Also, oil: here.

13 thoughts on “Rockhopper penguin decline

  1. Shipwreck threatens island penguins

    By Emily Beament, PA

    Monday, 21 March 2011

    A wrecked ship is threatening to cause an environmental disaster on an island which is home to endangered penguins, conservationists warned today.

    The vessel has grounded on Nightingale Island, part of the Tristan da Cunha UK overseas territory in the South Atlantic, causing an oil slick around the island which is home to nearly half the world’s population of northern rockhopper penguins.

    Some 1,500 tonnes of heavy crude oil from the MS Olivia, which was shipping soya beans between Rio de Janeiro and Singapore, is leaking into the sea.

    According to the RSPB, oil now surrounds Nightingale Island and extends into a slick eight miles offshore, threatening the endangered penguins and the economically important rock lobster fishery.

    Hundreds of penguins have already been seen coming ashore covered in oil, the wildlife charity said.

    The shipwreck could also lead to any rats onboard colonising the island and posing a huge risk to the native seabird populations – whose chicks and eggs could be eaten by the invasive rodents.

    The Tristan da Cunha islands, in particular Nightingale and its neighbour Middle Island, are home to millions of nesting seabirds.

    There are more than 200,000 northern rockhopper penguins on the island.

    RSPB research biologist Richard Cuthbert said: “The consequences of this wreck could be potentially disastrous for wildlife and the fishery-based economy of these remote islands.

    “The Tristan da Cunha islands, especially Nightingale and adjacent Middle Island, hold millions of nesting seabirds as well as four out of every 10 of the world population of the globally endangered northern rockhopper penguin.”

    And he said: “If the vessel happens to be harbouring rats and they get ashore, then a twin environmental catastrophe could arise.

    “Nightingale is one of two large islands in the Tristan da Cunha group that are rodent-free. If rats gain a foothold their impact would be devastating.”

    Trevor Glass, Tristan conservation officer, said: “The scene at Nightingale is dreadful as there is an oil slick encircling the island.

    “The Tristan conservation team are doing all they can to clean up the penguins that are currently coming ashore. It is a disaster.”


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