The erect-crested penguin (Eudyptes sclateri) is an elusive creature from Down Under. These New Zealand natives mate on a variety of subantarctic locations off their country's mainland -- primarily Bounty and Antipodes islands, although they are found on the Campbell and Auckland islands, too. In general, predation isn't a major issue for most adults of the species, although it does sometimes affect younger birds.
The species, also known as the big-crested penguin, is named for the upright, bright yellow feather tufts that appear by their eyes. Erect-crested penguins usually weigh between 6 and 8 pounds, according to Animal Bytes of SeaWorld. They can achieve body lengths of up to 25 inches. Although both genders look alike, the females are just a little smaller than the males. Erect-crested penguins usually inhabit rugged terrain environments, and mating activities often occur close to those of rockhopper penguins. Their life expectancies are usually in the range of 15 and 20 years.
Predators and Prey
Fully mature erect-crested penguins don't have many predators, although hooker seals sometimes prey on them in the water. However, youngsters of the species -- both chicks and eggs -- are vulnerable to predators such as mice, giant petrels and brown skuas. Although erect-crested penguins aren't often prey, they are predators in their own right. They regularly feed on squid, tiny fish and krill.
Humans are not generally believed to hunt erect-crested penguins, according to Animal Diversity Web for the University of Michigan. Additionally, like other penguins, erect-crested penguins have government restrictions against both egg acquisition and hunting activities.
Erect-crested penguins are in the "endangered" population category, according to the 2012 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Considered endangered since 2000, the species has seen its population decline "very rapidly over the last three generations," the IUCN states, and has a very restricted breeding range. There are believed to be fewer than 210,000 erect-crested penguins remaining today.
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Eudyptes sclateri
- SeaWorld Animal Bytes: Erect-crested Penguin
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Eudyptes sclateri
- The University of Washington Penguin Project: Erect-crested Penguin
- BirdLife International: Erect-crested Penguin
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Eudyptes sclateri
- Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images