Cool fact…
Scientific studies have been carried out at Heard Island since 1874, when scientists from the HMS Challenger made geological and botanical collections during a three hour visit to Corinthian Bay.

Macaroni penguin

Macaroni penguin
Macaroni penguin (Photo: E Woehler)

Vital statistics

Scientific name:
Eudyptes chrysolophus

Weight: 4–7 kg depending on breeding stage and gender

Height: ~70 cm

Breeding age: 5 years for females,
6 years for males

Breeding frequency: Annual

Breeding season: Variable, although highly synchronized within colonies

Age to fledging: 60–70 days

Longevity: Not well known, probably around 20+ years

Name Derivation: The name is derived from Greek and means "good diver" (Eudyptes) "with a golden crest" (chrysolophus)

Foraging statistics

What do I eat? Lots of Antarctic krill but also a variety of fish

What eats me? Fur and leopard seals can kill adults, while chicks and eggs are taken by skuas, sheathbills and giant petrels

Range trip time: From 24 hours to 3 weeks

Range trip length: 50 to > 2000 km depending on breeding stage

Depth of water where foraging: 220+ m; however, most dives go to 15-50 m

Distribution and abundance

Distribution: Circumpolar, generally on subantarctic islands, although one colony is known to exist on the Antarctic Peninsula

Abundance: The breeding population was estimated at 11 million pairs in 1993

Population Status: Not globally threatened.

General comments

A huge colony is located near Cape Lockyer on Heard Island, where the macaroni penguins build nest on surprisingly steep slopes. Research was conducted on this colony during the 2003/04 expedition, investigating the penguins' role as predators in the region.

Unlike most other penguins, macaronis lay 2 eggs each breeding season. The second egg is bigger than the first and is typically the only one that hatches.

More information can be found on other Heard Island penguin species:

This page was last updated on 28 February 2005.