Fears the yellow-eyed penguin may have no future

  • 25/11/2017
Yellow-eyed penguin
Yellow-eyed penguin. Photo credit: File

Yellow-eyed penguin nest numbers have dropped this year, raising concerns for the endangered species.

The number of breeding pairs in the lower South Island's east coast is now the lowest it has been in 27 years, dropping from 261 nests to 250 in the past year, the Department of Conservation says.

The decline in yellow-eyed penguin (hoiho) nests has been the worst on Codfish Island, also known as Whenua Hou, off the coast of Stewart Island, where the number dropped by 10.

Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust general manager Sue Murray is worried about the future of the critically endangered bird.

"The trust has huge concerns for the future of hoiho on Whenua Hou, given their rapid decline. Our focus must be the marine environment where hoiho spend at least half of their life," she said.

Yellow-eyed penguins are thought to be one of the world's rarest penguin species and the most at-risk in New Zealand.

The total population of hoiho was last estimated at 1600 to 1800 breeding pairs, but is now thought to be less than that.