November 2012
Read about the range and distribution of yellow-eyed penguins along with their population levels and trends.

Read about the range and distribution of yellow-eyed penguins along with their population levels and trends. This project was commissioned as part of the Conservation Services Programme project POP2011-08.


Yellow-eyed penguin. Photo: Jeff Flavell.
Yellow-eyed penguin

The yellow-eyed penguin is endemic to New Zealand and is one of two penguin species with the most fragile conservation status on the planet. It is a long-lived species and population viability analysis shows that even a small increase in adult mortality augments extinction probability dramatically. The yellow-eyed penguin population on the New Zealand mainland, including Stewart Island, is small (600-800 breeding pairs). Previous population strongholds such as on the Otago Peninsula are declining. Since the mainland population is genetically distinct from sub-Antarctic populations (inferred immigration rate 0.003 per generation) the current loss of yellow-eyed penguins along the Southeast coast of the New Zealand South Island and in the Foveaux Strait will not be compensated by immigration. Fisheries bycatch may be substantial, particularly in the commercial set net fisheries; however, the information currently available does not allow assessing the full extent of fisheries impact.

Here we have reviewed and collated information existing to date on yellow-eyed penguin population parameters including range and distribution, population levels and trends, adult survival, juvenile survival, age of first breeding and fecundity. Furthermore, we summarised our current understanding of yellow-eyed penguin marine ecology and foraging patterns.

Important gaps in our knowledge have been identified and we provide recommendations for future research in order to better assess the direct and indirect effects of commercial fisheries on yellow-eyed penguins.

Publication information

Authors: Ursula Ellenberg and Thomas Mattern.
This report was prepared by Eudyptes EcoConsulting Ltd for the Department of Conservation as fulfilment of Contract 4350 (POP2011-08 Yellow-eyed penguin - review of population information).


Conservation Services Programme
Department of Conservation
PO Box 10-420
Wellington 6143


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