Cool fact…
Mackerel icefish are one of the most common fish species found in the shallower waters of the Kerguelen Plateau and along with Patagonian toothfish, form the basis for a commercial fishery in the region. Icefish are remarkable because they lack haemoglobin or red blood cells, resulting in blood that is an opalescent white/gray in colour, and cream coloured gills, liver and heart.

Rockhopper penguin

Rockhopper penguins
Rockhopper penguins (Photo: K Lawton)

Vital statistics

Scientific name: Eudyptes chrysocome

Weight: 2–4 kg depending on gender and breeding stage

Height: 45–58 cm

Breeding age: Not well known but probably about 4 years

Breeding frequency: Annual

Breeding season: Highly variable among islands; at Heard Island from October to April

Age to fledging: 66–73 days

Longevity: Not known but probably 20+ years

Name Derivation: Rockhoppers are cousins of macaroni penguins, therefore they share the same genus name “Eudyptes”, meaning 'good diver'. “Chrysocome” means “golden haired”.

Foraging statistics

What do I eat? Lots of krill (Euphausia vallentini) and some fish

What eats me? Fur seals, leopard seals, skuas, giant petrels

Range trip time: 11–27 days

Range trip length: 95–300 (?) km

Depth of water where foraging: > 300 m

Extreme dive depth/time: Most dives go to 38 m or less, but the deepest dives recorded were to 109 m; dive duration averages around 57 ± 34 seconds. The longest dive recorded lasted 168 seconds.

Distribution and abundance

Distribution: Circumpolar, with breeding colonies widespread on subantarctic and south temperate islands in the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans.

Abundance: More than 3.5 million pairs in 1993, but since then many colonies have been shown to be decreasing.

Population status: Not globally threatened.

General comments

Some of the colonies of rockhopper penguins at Heard Island have disappeared in recent years. Causes for this are largely unknown; in other areas rockhopper penguins get killed in drift-net fishing and find commercial fishers competing for the same food.

More information can be found on other Heard Island penguin species by following the links below.

This page was last updated on 28 February 2005.