Yellow Eyed Penguins
The Yellow Eyed penguin is the only member of the genus Megadyptes and is also the rarest species with the sole exception of the Galapagos penguin. Yellow Eyed penguins are found only in some of the sub-antarctic islands south of New Zealand and in sparse populations on the coasts of New Zealand's South island. Unlike all other penguin species these penguins do not form communal rookeries but prefer to nest in isolation. They nest in wooded areas often making their nests in sheltered woodland locations such as in the undergrowth under a tree. They generally lay two eggs (2-3 weeks apart) but do not commence incubation until both eggs are laid.
They are the fourth largest penguin species after the Emperor Penguins, the King Penguins and the Gentoos. They are approximately 70 cms long (about 28") and weigh up to 8 kgs. Theie distinguishing feature is a band of bright yellow feathers surrounding their eyes and stretching across the back of their heads. This band is less pronounced in youth. The species is one of the rarest of all penguin species and there may now be as few as 1000 breeding pairs left. The main problem has been loss of their natural habitat on the New Zealand mainland due to deforestation and the introduction of non endemic predators on the islands (eg rats and mice). Fortunately the New Zealand government support an ambitious program to rid the islands of predators and some spectacular successes have already been recorded (eg rat eradication from Campbell Island).
The pictures shown here were taken on Enderby Island, a sub antarctic island about 450 miles south of New Zealand. It is thought that there may be as few as 150 breeding pairs left on this island and it is quite rare to see a penguin on its nest. These pictures were taken in November 2011.