Friday, April 10, 2015


The Snares penguin (Eudyptes robustus), also known as the Snares crested penguin and the Snares Islands penguin, is a penguinfrom New Zealand. The species breeds on The Snares, a group of islands off the southern coast of the South Island. This is a medium-small, yellow-crested penguin, at a size of 50–70 cm (20–28 in) and a weight of 2.5–4 kg (5.5-8.8 lbs). It has dark blue-black upperparts and white underparts. It has a bright yellow eyebrow-stripe which extends over the eye to form a drooping, bushy crest. It has bare pink skin at the base of its large red-brown bill.This penguin nests in small (10 nests) to large (1200 nests) colonies under forest cover or the open. The main colonies are located onNorth East Island, other colonies are established on Broughton Island as well as the rocky Western Chain. The Snares penguin's main prey is krill, supplemented by squid and small fish. The species is currently rated as vulnerable by the IUCN as its breeding range is restricted to one small island group. The current population is estimated at around 25,000 breeding pairs.

Snares penguins were originally collected in 1874 and named atrata by Frederick Wollaston Hutton.The Snares penguin is named after the place in which it breeds—the Snares Islands. The Snares Islands are a small group of islands off the coast of southern New Zealand. Although little is known of their range and migration outside of the breeding season, it is not thought that they migrate far in the winters. Occasional sitings have occurred on the coasts of Tasmania, southern Australia, the Chatham IslandsStewart Island, and the southern New Zealand mainland. There are approximately 25,000 living pairs of Snares penguins.Snares penguins nest in dense colonies under the tree cover of the Olearia forests or on coastal rocks.To build a nest, the penguins dig up shallow holes in the ground and layer the bottom with grass, leaves, twigs, peat, or pebbles.A small rim of mud is added to the rim of the nest to raise it above ground level. Vegetation at nesting sites dies dues to the dense nesting activities, and the colony moves to a new nesting site.Colonies nesting near streams may have some advantage, as the stream provides water for drinking and bathing. However, it is not essential that nesting colonies are located near a stream and many are far from any stream.

Although Snares penguins are not currently threatened, they are considered a vulnerable species. If a threat arose, it could quickly wipe out their population because their breeding grounds are confined to a small island group.The diet of Snares penguins usually consists of krill of the species Nyctiphanes australis, small fish, and cephalopods. One study found that about 60 percent of the mass of stomach contents from Snares penguins consisted of krill, 30 percent was fish, and about 10 percent was cephalopods.Predators of adult Snares penguins are sea lions and leopard seals. Their eggs and chicks are hunted by skuas and petrels.