Friday 7 November 2008

Gentoo & Yellow-eyed Penguins

Penguins five and six are the gentoo (Pygoscelis papua) and the yellow-eyed (Megadyptes antipodes).

Gentoo penguin
Pygoscelis papua (Forster, 1781)

Adult gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua)

Distribution: circumpolar, breeding on sub-Antarctic islands & Antarctic Peninsula (46-65oS); non-breeding range poorly known but they are mostly sedentary; vagrant to 43oS Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

Size: 75-90 cm (29½-35½”); largest penguin in the genus Pygoscelis; males weigh up to 8.5 kg (18½ lb); females up to 8.2 kg (18 lb).

Habitat: breeds on ice-free ground, sometimes considerably inland, but at other times coastal; also beaches, headlands, valleys and hillocks.

Diet: krill and fish as well as amphipods and cephalopods (squid).

Etymology: Pygoscelis = "rump leg" in Greek; papua = from Papua New Guinea (obviously a misnomer).

Subspecies: Pygoscelis papua papua = Falklands, South Georgia, Kerguelen, Heard, Macquarie & Staten; P. p. ellsworthi = Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetlands, South Orkneys – smaller than P. p. papua but with no plumage differences.

Gentoo penguin chicks (Pygoscelis papua) of different ages

Yellow-eyed penguin
Megadyptes antipodes (Hombron & Jacquinot, 1841)

Adult yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes)

Distribution: endemic to New Zealand – confined to SE South Island from 45o45’S to Stewart, Auckland and Campbell Islands; non-breeding range poorly known but could extend to Cook Strait.

Size: 56-78 cm (22-31”); males larger and heavier than females; males up to 8.9 kg (19½ lb); females up to 8.4 kg (18½ lb).

Habitat: cool temperate waters around breeding area; usually breeds in coastal/podocarp forests, open forest, pasture and cliffs as well as bays, headlands, slopes and gullies.

Diet: pelagic and demersal fish (such as blue cod) and cephalopods (squid).

Etymology: Megadyptes = “great diver” in Greek; antipodes = from the other side of the world (Southern Hemisphere), literally “opposite feet” in Greek.

Yellow-eyed penguin chicks (Megadyptes antipodes) of different ages

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