3 Types of Penguins on Chatham Island! (2024)

What are the different kinds of penguins on Chatham Island?

Types of penguins in Chatham Island

It’s easy to see why people are fascinated with penguins. Besides their adorable looks, these birds are unlike any other in the world!

They’re flightless birds that love to swim, they stand upright instead of hunched over, and almost all of them live in the southern hemisphere.

Keep reading to learn about EVERY type of penguin that lives on the planet, including photos and range maps!

THE 3 PENGUIN species on Chatham Island:


#1. Little Penguin

  • Eudyptula minor

Also known as Little Blue Penguins.

Types of penguins in Chatham Island

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 30-33 cm (12-13 in) tall and weigh about 1.5kg (3.3 lb).
  • The head and back are blue, and the underside is white from chin to belly.
  • Their feet are pink with black soles and webbing.

Little Penguins are the only nocturnal penguin on Chatham Island!

They prefer to complete all their activities at night, including hunting, moving, and socializing. Then, during the day, they rest in groups to protect themselves from predators.

Little Penguins live on the southern coast of Australia and throughout coastal New Zealand.

Little Penguins dive as deep as 80 m (265 ft) to find their preferred food, which includes krill, fish, and squid. However, they can only stay underwater for two minutes, which is short compared to other types of penguins. They also swim and walk along the shore in groups, an effective strategy to avoid predators.

Amazingly, Little Penguins have up to nine sounds they use to communicate with their colony. The sounds include sharp barking that announces it’s time to hunt and loud yelps, which signal trouble. Listen to a few sounds below!

YouTube video

Although Little Penguins do face an increased threat from introduced predators, they aren’t currently in danger of decline. They’re a species of Least Concern, meaning their populations are stable and healthy.

  • Estimated Global Population: 1.2 million individual penguins

#2. King Penguin

  • Aptenodytes patagonicus

Types of penguins in Chatham Island

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 70-100 cm (28-39 in) tall and weigh 9.3-18 kg (21-40 lb).
  • Its coloring is dark on the back, wings, and legs, with bright yellow-orange plumage at the top of its chest and around each eye. The belly is white.
  • The wings are large and flipper-like, and the beak is long and straight.

The King Penguin is the second largest penguin in the world.

Many people confuse them with the largest species, the Emperor Penguin, because they appear somewhat similar.

King Penguins live throughout the Southern Ocean, with sightings in South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and various islands.

These athletic penguins are impressive in the water! They can swim at 6.5–10 kph (4–6 mph) and dive to depths of 100-300 m (350-1000 ft). In addition, they can stay underwater for up to five minutes.

Even though they’re agile swimmers, King Penguins must be vigilant because they’re a favorite food for many sea mammals. In particular, sea lions will chase these penguins right onto the beach!

YouTube video

Like many types of penguins, King Penguins are susceptible to loss of habitat because of climate change. Even though they are currently a species of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, their population is expected to decline by up to 70% in the next eighty years.

  • Estimated Global Population: Between 2 and 3 million breeding pairs

#3. Erect-crested Penguin

  • Eudyptes sclateri

Types of penguins in Chatham Island

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 50-70 cm (20-28 in) tall and weigh 2.5-6 kg (5.5-13.2 lbs).
  • Their coloring is bluish-black on top with white underparts.
  • A large, bright yellow stripe on the head extends over the eye to form a brush-like crest.

Erect-crested Penguins are the least-studied penguins on Chatham Island. However, we do know some information about their hunting and breeding habits.

For example, this species commonly scrapes krill off the underside of the ice. Although they don’t have teeth, these penguins have a sharp blade-like bill to help with the task. They also eat squid and small fish.

Erect-crested Penguins live on the eastern coast of New Zealand and the surrounding islands.

Erect-crested Penguins have very specific breeding habits that sometimes hurt their survival chances. They nest in rocky terrain, often on precarious ledges. Unfortunately, the eggs can roll out of the nest easily. Increased fighting and low breeding success also hurt this species’ population.

As you might expect, Erect-crested Penguins are endangered. Their population has drastically declined over the last 30 years, and their breeding range is limited only to two locations.

  • Estimated Global Population: 30,000 breeding pairs

Do you want to know more about penguins on Chatham Island?


Which type of penguin on Chatham Island is your favorite?

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