Northern Rockhopper Penguin Eudyptes moseleyi


Justification of Red List category
This species has been classified as Endangered owing to very rapid population decreases over the last three generations (30 years) combined with a limited distributional range and increasing land and sea-based threats. Precise reasons for the declines are poorly understood, but changes in the marine environment, including increasing sea temperatures and reduction or displacement of prey, diseases, and oil pollution are among the suspected causes.

Population justification
The latest estimates suggest a total population of c. 206,850 breeding pairs with the majority of the population (89.7%) being found at the Atlantic Ocean breeding sites (62,791 pairs on Middle/Alex Island in 2016, 64,700 pairs on Gough Island in 2006, 20,423 pairs on Nightingale Island in 2017, 33,867 pairs on Inaccessible Island in  2016, 3584 pairs on Tristan da Cunha islands in 2015) and 10.3% at the Indian Ocean islands (12,161 pairs on Amsterdam Island in 2015, 7,580 pairs on St Paul Island in 2018) (RZSS, BAS, CEBC-CNRS, RSPB, TAAF, TCD 2018).

Overall, recent analysis of population trends indicates that over the previous 30 years (three generations) the number of Northern Rockhopper Penguins globally declined by 57% (RZSS, BAS, CEBC-CNRS, RSPB, TAAF, TCD 2018).

Early records indicate that millions of Northern Rockhopper Penguins used to occur on both Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island prior to 1955. As a very rough estimate, approximately 2 million pairs (98%) were lost from Gough Island between 1955 and 2006, and Tristan da Cunha is thought to have held hundreds of thousands of pairs in the 1870s, which were reduced to around 5,000 pairs by 1955 (Cuthbert et al. 2009). At Amsterdam Island, numbers have been declining at an average rate of 3.7% since the early 1970s resulting in a 80% decline over the past three generations (Barbraud et al. in revision). On Saint Paul Island, the population has increased at a rate of 1.4% since the early 1970s (Barbraud et al. in revision).

Trend justification
Recent population models indicate that over the previous 30 years (three generations) the number of Northern Rockhopper Penguins globally declined by 57% and suggest an ongoing decline (Birdlife International 2010; 2017, RZSS, BAS, CEBC-CNRS, RSPB, TAAF, TCD 2018). Trends are contrasted at the species' two breeding locations in the Indian Ocean. At St. Paul Island, numbers have been increasing at an average rate of 1.4% since the early 1970s (Barbraud et al. in revision). At Amsterdam Island, numbers have been declining at an average rate of 3.7% since the early 1970s resulting in a 80% decline over the past three generations (Barbraud et al. in revision). At the Atlantic Ocean breeding sites, while numbers in the northern islands are believed to be stable, the population on Gough Island is still in decline (Cuthbert et al. 2009, Robson et al. 2011). Given the magnitude of the previously estimated declines, a repeat of the population models to update the current trend is a high priority action for the species.

Distribution and population

The Northern Rockhopper Penguin is found in the temperate South Atlantic and Indian oceans, breeding on seven islands between 37–40° S. Approximately 90% of the global population is found in the Atlantic Ocean, breeding at the Tristan da Cunha archipelago and Gough Island (Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha UK Overseas Territories) and the remaining 10% in the Indian Ocean on Amsterdam and St Paul islands (French Southern Territories) (Cuthbert 2013). The location of these islands places the breeding distribution of most Northern Rockhopper Penguins north of the Subtropical Front, with the exception of Gough Island, which lies between the Subtropical Front and the Subantarctic Front to the south.

During the incubation period, penguins forage more than 800 km and 670 km away from their breeding site on Nightingale and Gough Island, respectively, whereas during brooding foraging ranges are restricted to a maximum distance of 35 km (Nightingale Island) and 24 km (Gough Island) (Steinfurth et al. unpubl. data). Tracking data from Nightingale and Gough islands further reveal that birds disperse after moult over an area stretching to the east along the Walvis Ridge and to the region of the Southern African shelf (approx. 21°S and 15°E) towards the South American continent (approx. 42°W) and south into the region of the Antarctic convergence (approx. 51°S). While penguins breeding on Nightingale Island display high variability in foraging locations during incubation and over-winter migration, penguins breeding on Gough Island show strong directionality with high continuity, travelling south and south-east. Penguins breeding on Amsterdam Island perform looping trips during the incubation, with a mean foraging range of 230 km, but some breeders may forage as far as 410 km off their colony. Brooding birds usually forage much closer to the colony, staying within the region of the shelf (range 8-80 km) (Bost unpubl. data). After moulting, penguins from Amsterdam Island perform long-range movements of up to 2200 km away from the colony, mainly in longitudinal direction without any return to land. The majority of birds head south-east, along the Indian Ridge and forage south of the southern boundary of the subtropical front, using deep waters (3000-3500 m) with very heterogeneous sea surface temperature anomalies and chlorophyll concentrations (Thiebot et al. 2012). 

Vagrants have been recorded from South Africa (Rollinson et al. 2013) and the Falkland Islands (Matias et al. 2009, Crofts and Robson 2015). The first breeding attempt of a Northern with a Southern Rockhopper Penguin, Eudyptes chrysocome, was recorded in 2014 on East Falkland (Crofts and Robson 2015). 


Lifecycle and foraging ecology
After breeding and moulting, birds depart on their winter migration and spent up to six months at sea before returning to their respective breeding sites in the following season (Cuthbert 2013). The foraging ranges of Northern Rockhopper Penguins have been investigated for penguins breeding on Nightingale and Gough islands in the Atlantic Ocean (Steinfurth et al. in revision) and for penguins breeding on Amsterdam Island (Thiebot et al. 2012, Heerah et al. 2019).

South Atlantic Ocean

Northern Rockhopper Penguins display marked variability in their spatial distribution during different stages of the breeding season and between islands but show high fidelity in the use of foraging areas between years. Duration of trips is shortest for brood-guard trips (74 hours max. duration) and longest for incubation trips (839 hours). Incubation trips are on average six days longer for males than for females, and five days shorter for males from Nightingale than from Gough. During the crèche stage both sexes perform two distinct trip types with short trips lasting generally just one day and long trips lasting up to three weeks.

During incubation, penguins breeding on Nightingale Island disperse mostly east-west, remain mainly within the boundaries of the Tristan da Cunha EEZ (mean maximum range: 402 and 277 km for males and females, respectively) and stay north of the Subtropical Front, while penguins breeding on Gough Island have a greater foraging range (584 and 337 km, respectively) and show strong directionality with high continuity, travelling south and south-east towards the Subantarctic Front. During chick-rearing Northern Rockhoppers generally remain within 80 km of their colony (Steinfurth et al. in revision).

Outside the breeding season preliminary analysis of GLS tracking data from Nightingale and Gough islands reveal that birds disperse over an area stretching to the east along the Walvis Ridge and to the region of the Southern African shelf (approx. 21°S and 15°E) towards the South American continent (approx. 42°W) and south into the region of the Polar Front (approx. 51°S). 

South Indian Ocean

Amsterdam Island penguins  

Individuals make looping trips during the incubation period, with a mean foraging range of 230 km, but some birds may forage as far as 410 km away from their colony. Birds mostly targeted areas around and north-east of the colony. By contrast, brooding birds usually forage much closer to the colony (8-80 km). The core areas are essentially west and south-east of the colony (Heerah et al. 2019). During chick rearing,  while Northern Rockhopper Penguins mainly stay within the French EEZ to forage within small areas east or north-west of the colony, some birds may forage up to 600 km south of Amsterdam Island during the creche stage. Long trips to the south, toward the Subtropical Front, are likely undertaken by failed breeders, when no chicks survive in the colony (C-A Bost, pers. obs.).

After moulting, GLS data indicate that Amsterdam penguins perform long-range movements of up to 2200 km away from the colony, mainly in longitudinal direction, as far as the south-western side of Australia, without any return to land. Most birds head south-east, along the Indian Ridge and forage south of the Subtropical Front using deep waters (3,000-3,500 m) with very heterogeneous sea surface temperature anomalies and chlorophyll concentrations (Thiebot et al. 2012). Oceanic fronts appear to be an important habitat feature as for many top-predators of the Southern Ocean (Bost et al. 2009).

Breeding and moulting biology

Adults arrive at the breeding colonies in late July (males) and August (females). At the Atlantic breeding sites, nests are located in a variety of habitats ranging from open boulder-strewn beaches on Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha to among dense stands of tall tussock grass (mainly Spartina arundinacea) on Nightingale, Alex (Middle) and Inaccessible islands (Cuthbert 2013). In the Indian Ocean, on Amsterdam and St Paul islands, penguins breed in steep or gently sloping ground in a variety of habitats from sea-level up to 170 m above sea-level. Habitats vary from open boulder-strewn beaches to among stands of tussock grass (Spartina arundinacea and Poa novarae).

Two eggs are laid in early September, the earlier ‘A’ egg being smaller than the later ‘B’ egg as for other Eudyptes penguins. Incubation is divided into two shifts: males make the first trip of three weeks’ duration and females the second lasting two weeks. Chicks hatch in October but only one chick is raised, usually from the B egg. Male birds guard the nest during the 2-3 week while females perform short-range daily foraging trips to feed the chick. Chicks then enter the crèche stage (when both parents forage simultaneously and leave the chick unguarded) until they fledge in December in the northern archipelago or January on Gough. For Northern Rockhopper Penguins breeding on Gough Island and hence south of the Subtropical Front, the penguin’s breeding cycle begins about 3-4 weeks later than in the northern islands. The breeding phenology on Amsterdam-St Paul islands in the South Indian Ocean is similar to that of the northern Atlantic sites.

After the chicks have fledged the parents undertake a pre-moult trip and return ashore between mid-January and late February to moult. The annual moult is completed in about three weeks after which the birds depart onto their winter migration, only returning to shore for the following breeding season.


Northern Rockhopper Penguins are opportunistic foragers, utilizing different areas during the breeding and non-breeding season. On Tristan da Cunha, they mainly feed on crustaceans, mainly krill (euphausiids) supplemented with small proportions of fish and cephalopods (Booth and McQuaid 2013, Cuthbert 2013). Juvenile squid and crustaceans were the main prey by mass at Amsterdam Island (Tremblay and Cherel 2003). Dietary studies from Tristan da Cunha and Amsterdam Island reveal seasonal changes in diets: crustaceans (Tristan da Cunha) and cephalopods (Amsterdam) dominated the diet during the early chick-crèche stage but fish became the main prey item at both islands in the later stages of chick rearing (Tremblay et al. 1997, Booth and McQuaid 2013, Booth et al. 2018).


During the breeding season, in the Tristan group and on Amsterdam Island, adult and immature Northern Rockhopper Penguins are regularly preyed upon by Northern (Amsterdam Is.) and Southern Giant Petrels Macronectes halli and M. giganteus on the shore and at sea (Ryan et al. 2008, A. Steinfurth, pers. obs., C-A. Bost, pers. obs), while in the colony, unprotected eggs and chicks are taken by the Subantarctic Skua Catharacta antarctica lonnbergi and Tristan Thrush Turdus eremita (A. Steinfurth, pers. obs.). In 2019, for the first time, predation by a subantarctic fur seal Arctocephalus tropicalis was observed off Nightingale Island (T. Glass, pers. obs.). On Amsterdam Island, active predation by Subantarctic Skuas also occurs during the breeding season. Predation on adults by seals close to the shore is reported but is believed to be rare. Predation by Subantarctic Fur Seals, Giant Petrels and Skuas is thought to influence population trends of Eudyptes populations elsewhere (Horswill et al. 2014, Morrisson et al. 2017).


The causes of current population declines are poorly understood, but introduced species (including pathogens), increasing competition for habitat and food with a rapidly growing Subantarctic Fur Seal Arctocephalus tropicalis population, changes in sea surface temperature and/or marine productivity, human-induced activities and pollution, are all likely to be implicated to some degree.

Human exploitation

Historically, vast numbers of birds and products from penguins were collected (i.e. eggs were harvested, oil extracted from moulting birds, feathers collected for stuffing pillows and mattresses, and feathers being used for making ornamental table mats on Tristan; eggs and adults on St. Paul Island used by sealers). These practices were largely discontinued by 1955 (Hagen 1952, Wace & Holdgate 1976, Richardson 1984); the egg harvest was suspended in 2011 (following the MS Oliva oil spill) but as of 2018 has been reopened. To date, penguin guano is harvested from Nightingale and Alex islands after the breeding season by the Tristan community to provide fertilizer for their allotments.


Penguins have been taken as bait for use in crab pots at a number of sites, including at St Paul (Indian Ocean) and Tristan da Cunha (Atlantic Ocean) (Guinard et al. 1998, Cuthbert et al. 2009), and driftnet fishing and rock-lobster fisheries may have caused significant mortality in the past (Ryan & Cooper 1991, Crawford et al. 2017, TAFF 2011). With only few records of fisheries-related mortality (Ryan and Cooper 1991) and no legal gillnet fishery, bycatch does not appear to be a major threat to the species now. However, recent evidence of illegal use of gillnets within the species' foraging range indicates that unobserved bycatch may be higher than suspected (Crawford et al. 2017). Still, it is considered unlikely to affect more than a minority of the overall population (Cuthbert et al. 2009, Cuthbert 2013, Crawford et al. 2017).

Food availability 

Food availability may have been compromised by climate change (through increased sea surface temperature [SST]), an increase in Subantarctic fur seal populations and shifts in marine food webs (Cunningham & Moors 1994, Guinard et al. 1998, Barlow et al. 2002, Hilton et al. 2006, Cuthbert 2013). Population declines have occurred over relatively large spatio-temporal scales, possibly implying that at the ecosystem-scale, at-sea factors are likely to be involved (Hilton et al. 2006). Population numbers have been found to correlate with SST on Amsterdam Island (Guinard et al. 1998), while Hilton et al. (2006) found some evidence for a link between decreased primary productivity and population declines and a shift to lower trophic levels due to warming SST. However, different sites showed divergent trends, and the impacts of climate change remain inconclusive. In addition, adult body condition at the beginning of the breeding and moulting periods has been stable since the mid 1990’s (Delord et al. submitted).

Oil Pollution

On 16 March 2011, the cargo ship MS Oliva ran aground on Nightingale Island, spilling 1500 tons of fuel and heavy crude oil. This impacted Nightingale, Middle/Alex and Inaccessible islands; breeding sites to almost half of the world’s Northern Rockhopper Penguin population (Tristan main island was unaffected by the spill). Thousands of oiled penguins were caught on Nightingale and transported to Tristan da Cunha where they were cleaned and rehabilitated by a project involving virtually all the island’s inhabitants. Only a few hundreds were saved, and it is impossible to say how many died in the wild. Moreover, the long-term effects of the oil spill on the populations are still unknown. The increase in volume of passing shipping poses a growing risk of chronic oiling and/or further catastrophic spills.
For the Atlantic Ocean population, oil pollution is currently considered the main threat.


So far, no impact of plastics pollution on Northern Rockhoppers has been reported from any of their colonies. However, in an ecosystem assessment at the islands carried out in 2017, microplastics were found in 15 of the 19 samples taken (Caselle et al. 2017). Whilst this is a small sample, it indicates the potential necessity for further investigation of the impacts of microplastics.

Invasive species, disease and parasites 

Among birds, penguins are particularly prone to infection by pathogens (Grimaldi et al. 2015). The pathogen Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, the causative agent of erysipelas, has been recently detected in Northern Rockhopper Penguins breeding on Amsterdam Island (Jaeger et al. 2018). Another identified pathogen Pasteurella multocida (avian cholera) has been implicated in the high chick mortality of Indian Yellow-Nosed Albatrosses Thalassarche carteri on Amsterdam Island. These pathogens could be responsible for four successive years of complete breeding failure of the Northern Rockhopper Penguin population there, although further studies are needed to confirm whether this is the case. The only study of serology and infections on Northern Rockhopper Penguins in the Tristan group was confined to avian influenza on Gough island (Abad et al. 2013). In this study, 5% of birds sampled tested positive for antibodies and none for active infection. The impacts on survival are unknown (few birds with antibodies could indicate that infected birds usually die, rather than infection rates being low). In the breeding season 2010/2011, Booth (2011) carried out a study on parasitism in breeding Northern Rockhopper Penguins at the Stony Beach colony on Tristan da Cunha. The protozoan Babesia was the only parasite observed in the samples. Sixty-one percent of all birds examined presented with Babesia infestation (likely B. peircei). 

Introduced house mice Mus musculus on Gough Island are known predators of seabirds but have not yet been recorded preying on penguins. The same applies to introduced rats Rattus norvegicus on Amsterdam Island and R. rattus on Tristan da Cunha. The only reported cases of major predation by invasive species are by feral pigs on Tristan da Cunha and Inaccessible islands (where they were eradicated in 1873 and 1930, respectively). Domestic and feral dogs were also reported to kill penguins on Tristan da Cunha (BirdLife International 2010) but this threat is now controlled. Feral cattle used to occur on Amsterdam Island, but all were removed c. 5 years ago. On Tristan da Cunha cattle still exists and in close proximity to some of the penguin rockeries. Grazing of cattle has altered the extent and/or structure of the original habitat which may have had some indirect effect on the habitat. Direct impact by predation of rats, cats and mice on eggs, chicks or adults has never been reported in Amsterdam Island but are all possible. Rats may act as a reservoir for maintaining bacteria between two breeding seasons while seabirds are absent from the island (Jaeger et al. 2018). Studies on Amsterdam and Gough islands to investigate the role of rats and mice in bacterial maintenance and transmission in the seabird community are currently being conducted.


Tourism is not considered a threat at the current low volumes, but the number of cruise ships and tourists can be expected to increase, so the current regulations need to be kept under review.


In 2014, for the first time a breeding attempt between a Northern and a Southern Rockhopper Penguin was recorded on the Falklands Islands. A hybrid chick hatched but died before fledging. A negative impact of hybridization on the population is unlikely to be significant, in contrary, hybridisation could become important in Eudyptes penguins adapting to future climate change scenarios.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway

National legislation and protection

All breeding colonies in the Tristan group are protected under the Conservation of Native Organisms and Natural Habitats (Tristan da Cunha) Ordinance (2006).

Scientific research at the islands is regulated by the Tristan da Cunha Environmental Research Permit System. All research has to fulfil Tristan da Cunha conservation priorities and be approved by the Conservation Department and is subject to ethical clearance. Scientists are required to complete a permit application and protocol for researchers and must abide by the Tristan da Cunha Environmental Charter. The Tristan da Cunha Environment Charter outlines the environmental management commitments of the UK Government and the Government of Tristan da Cunha and serves as a framework policy to guide the development of management policies and plans. The Tristan da Cunha Fisheries Limits Ordinance 1983 controls commercial fishing activity within the Tristan da Cunha Exclusive Economic Zone covering 200 nautical miles offshore from the islands. Gough and Inaccessible Islands are managed as a World Heritage Site, Wildlife Reserve, IUCN Protected Area category 1, with research and weather monitoring the only activities permitted: each is surrounded by protected marine areas extending 12 nautical miles from their shorelines.

To avoid unregulated disturbance and introduction of invasive species into penguin colonies, tourists are permitted to go ashore at Nightingale and Inaccessible for guided wildlife tours, only if accompanied by a Tristanian appointed by the Conservation Department team and only on daytime visits. No tourism is permitted at Gough Island. As part of the Gough and Inaccessible Islands World Heritage Site Management Plan (2015-2020), “Guidelines for Day Visitors to Inaccessible Island” are provided to visiting tourists. All visitors to the outer islands and Tristan have to complete a “Biosecurity Self-Audit Checklist and Declaration”.

Amsterdam and St Paul islands are part of the Réserve Naturelle Nationale des Terres Australes Françaises, administered by the TAAF (French Southern and Antarctic Territories), which incorporates a protected marine zone covering more than 672,000 km2. The St Paul colony is within in a strictly protected area. Amsterdam colonies are included in a scientific dedicated area with a restricted access. Here, protective measures are implemented on landing and moving around the island to minimise the risk of spreading pathogens. The seabirds of Amsterdam and St Paul islands are protected by law. The French Administration and her/his leader (Préfet) are assisted in management of the reserve by a scientific council comprising members of the Polar Environment Committee and a management committee.

Amsterdam and Saint Paul islands are included in the National Nature Reserve of the French Southern and Antarctic Territories (TAAF) created in 2006, including the entire surface of these islands as well as Crozet, Kerguelen, and a large portion of their surrounding waters. French Southern and Antarctic Territories carry out active environmental policies linked to the conversation of the biodiversity.

International designations

Gough and Inaccessible islands have been gazetted as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, as two of the least disturbed cool-temperate island ecosystems in the South Atlantic Ocean with international importance for colonies of seabirds, and several endemic species and subspecies of land birds. BirdLife International has designated the Tristan Endemic Bird Area (including Inaccessible Island) and Gough Island Endemic Bird Area.

The whole TAAF Réserve Naturelle Nationale des Terres Australes Françaises is a Ramsar site. Gough and Inaccessible islands are also Ramsar sites and the Northern Rockhopper Penguin is among the species cited in the designations. Gough Island, and the Plateau des Tourbières on Amsterdam island are both listed as Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) sites, for endemic bird species (not penguins). Although some of these designations target primarily other species, they highlight the rich biodiversity value of the two island groups, and they attract support and funding from governments and international organisations, including for the waters around the islands, foraging and dispersal sites of Northern Rockhopper Penguins.

Conservation & research projects

Northern Rockhopper Penguin numbers are monitored regularly on Amsterdam and St Paul islands (CEBC-CNRS), Gough, Nightingale and Middle/Alex islands and at all sites on Tristan da Cunha by the Tristan Conservation Department. Counts on Inaccessible Island are intermittent. On Nightingale Island, a deep rock crevice that was trapping and killing penguins was covered (Cuthbert 2013). The year after the oil spill, in 2012, a comprehensive penguin research programme was initiated in the islands to investigate aspects of the penguins’ ecology at vital breeding sites to help understand the potential impact of any natural and/or anthropogenic threats to this population and to inform conservation actions (e.g. Johaadien 2013, Steinfurth et al. in review). Survival rates are an important driver of population trends; a long-term demographic study was implemented on Nightingale Island in 2016 to understand the causes of current decline.

An assessment of sustainable egg harvest levels has been produced (Ratcliffe 2018) to give advice to the Tristan da Cunha Island Council on a sustainable harvest protocol (submitted to the Tristan Council in 2018).

In 2016, as part of its obligations to meet Aichi Target 11, the UK government initiated its Blue Belt Programme, which aims to designate Marine Protected Areas that encompass a total of four million km2 of sea within the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of its 14 Overseas Territories, including Tristan da Cunha. To support this initiative, tracking data from three important colonies of Northern Rockhopper Penguins were used to provide information on the species’ spatial distribution to ensure that the most biologically valuable areas are recognized for protection. 

Recent projects at breeding sites in the South Atlantic and South Indian oceans aimed at determining key marine habitats of the Northern Rockhopper Penguin with the main objectives of this project to characterize habitats during the breeding season, create habitat models to predict changes in the locations of habitats under various climate change scenarios and delimit marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (mIBAs) as a tool to help protect key foraging areas.

Following recommendations given in the recently published Northern Rockhopper Species Action Plan (RZSS, BAS, CEBC-CNRS, RSPB, TAAF, TCD 2018) investigations are underway to understand the genetic connectivity between island subpopulations across the species’ global breeding sites with emphasis on potential disease transfer. 

Strategic framework 

The UK Overseas Territories Biodiversity Strategy (DEFRA 2009) is a framework document covering conservation in all UK Overseas Territories and contains five strategic priorities (three are broadly relevant to Northern Rockhopper Penguins). The Tristan da Cunha Biodiversity Action Plan 2012-2016 (Tristan da Cunha Government and RSPB 2012) is currently undergoing revision. Management plans for Gough and Inaccessible islands were produced in 1994 and 2001, respectively; they were followed by a revised management plan for the Gough and Inaccessible islands World Heritage Site covering 2015-2020 (Tristan Conservation Department and RSPB 2012). Concerning the Indian Ocean population, a first management plan (2011-2015) has been produced for the Réserve Naturelle Nationale des Terres Australes Françaises (TAAF 2010). In 2017, a new management plan covering 2018-2027 has been approved. This plan includes actions related to the impact of human activities, improvement of knowledge on species and habitats, restoration of species both on land and at sea within the natural reserve. A national action plan for the preservation of the Amsterdam albatross was produced in 2011 (TAAF 2011) and is currently in revision. It includes actions regarding the impact of disease and introduced mammals on the Amsterdam albatross and other seabirds, including the Northern Rockhopper Penguin.

An International Species Action Plan was developed at a workshop held at and hosted by the RZSS in Edinburgh, Scotland in October 2017 to identify the most important threats to this species and to recommend conservation actions until 2027 (RZSS, BAS, CEBC-CNRS, RSPB, TAAF, TCD 2018).

Conservation Actions Proposed

Following recommendations of the Northern Rockhopper Action Plan (2018), general actions are to; continue or start to monitor all populations in order to assess trends and improve methodologies for monitoring; conduct long-term demographic studies to understand the causes of the current decline; determine genetic connectivity between island subpopulations across the species’s global breeding sites with emphasis on potential disease transfer; conduct research into spatial and temporal links between population trends, sea-surface temperature and primary productivity; investigate the possible impact of oil exploitation; conduct studies to assess interactions with commercial fisheries; assess the threat from introduced predators; reduce disturbance from ecotourism through the use of codes of conduct; assess the threats of disease and increase biosecurity measures.

For Tristan da Cunha, bring the International Maritime Organisation to designate waters within 50 nautical miles of the coast as ‘Areas To Be Avoided’ so that shipping is routed away from vulnerable, nearshore aggregations of penguins.

For Amsterdam-St Paul islands, to regulate fishing activity within the islands’ EEZ by the French administration and only one commercial vessel can set demersal vertical longlines between November and April within the EEZ. Therefore, we recommend a reinforced protected area using our mIBA boundaries, such as the ones established at Kerguelen and Crozet islands during the 1st and 4th quarters of the year.

Eradicate introduced mammals on Amsterdam Island (cat, rat, mice).

Design and implement individual management plans for the islands, including appropriate protocols for immediate actions when needed (e.g. oil contingency plan).

Increase awareness including by involving local communities via school children, with resources and materials for school teachers. In particular increase awareness of the effects of climate change and what the public could do to mediate these effects.


Identification Approximately 55 cm in length; red eyes; white underparts and slate-gray upperparts; a straight, bright yellow eyebrow ending in long yellow plumes behind the eye; the top of the head has spiked black feathers. Similar species The Southern Rockhopper Penguin differs in having a wider supercilium and longer plumes.


Text account compilers
Pütz, K., Shutes, S., Martin, R., McClellan, R., Pearmain, L., Steinfurth, A., Moreno, R.

Barbraud, C., Bond, A., Bost, C., Cherel, Y., Cuthbert, R., Delord, K., Garcia Borboroglu , P., Hilton, G., Ratcliffe, N. & Steinfurth, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Eudyptes moseleyi. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/northern-rockhopper-penguin-eudyptes-moseleyi on 23/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from https://datazone.birdlife.org on 23/02/2024.