Northern rockhopper penguin

Northern rockhopper penguin looking directly at camera [eye-contact] IMAGE: Sian Addison 2018

Northern rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes moseleyi) are found in the temperate South Atlantic and Indian oceans, breeding on seven islands, five in the Tristan da Cunha group in the South Atlantic (UK Overseas Territories), and Amsterdam and St Paul islands in the southern Indian Ocean (French Southern Territories).  

Approximately two million pairs (or 98%) of these endangered penguins were lost from Gough Island between 1955 and 2006, and numbers on Tristan da Cunha are thought to have declined from the hundreds of thousands in the 1870s to just 5,000 pairs by 1955.

RZSS has helped with the conservation of rockhopper penguins on Tristan da Cunha for many years, including supporting annual surveys, public dissemination of data and information, and public engagement. In 2017, we facilitated the creation of the first global bilingual action plan for the species.  

We are currently working on a genetic analysis of this species to understand how connected Northern rockhopper populations are across these distant island groups. Our RZSS WildGenes team is comparing genetic diversity, population structure and migration patterns within and among subpopulations with an aim to improve conservation strategies for this species.

Our Partners

Project type

Conservation genetics icon

Conservation genetics

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Conservation planning

The team

Dr Heather Ritchie-Parker

Dr Heather Ritchie-Parker

Research scientist (RZSS WildGenes)

Dr Alex Ball

Dr Alex Ball

Conservation programme manager (RZSS WildGenes)

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Like all the animals in our care at Edinburgh Zoo, our Northern rockhoppers are amazing ambassadors for their relatives in the wild and help hundreds of thousands of people connect with nature every year. They encourage visitors to learn about the threats facing wildlife and the action they can take to help create a world where nature is protected, valued and loved.

Watch their antics on our live webcam.

Two Northern rockhopper penguins, one making eye contact IMAGE: Amy Middleton 2023

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