New Zealand’s star species could be extinct on mainland by 2060

Otago Peninsula’s populations of yellow-eyed penguin are declining.

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New Zealand’s star species could be extinct on mainland by 2060

Sea surface temperatures are influencing the survival rate of yellow-eyed penguin adults and fledglings on Otago Peninsula, New Zealand.

Scientists have been researching how the Endangered penguin populations will fare in the future.

“We have been studying the birds’ foraging behaviour and impact of human disturbance over the past 15 years and have been observing a steady decline,” said lead author Dr Thomas Mattern.

A yellow-eyed penguin heading out to sea © Thomas Mattern, Global Penguin Society

Other factors affecting this penguin species include drowning as unintentional bycatch, pollution and habitat degradation.

The study did not include additional adult die-off events, such as in 2013 when more than 60 adult penguins were found dead for unknown reasons. 

“Yellow-eyed penguins are a high profile species in New Zealand and there is a lot of interest in maintaining their well-being,” said Mattern.

A recovery plan for the yellow-eyed penguin species between 2000-2025 was put together by the Department of Conservation. 

Read the full paper in PeerJ.

 

Read more wildlife news stories in BBC Wildlife Magazine

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