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the web of life in southern Africa

Eudyptes chrysocome (Rockhopper penguin) 

Geelkuifpikkewyn [Afrikaans]; Rotspinguļn [Dutch]; Gorfou sauteur [French]; Felsenpinguin [German]; Pinguim-das-rochas [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Ciconiiformes > Family: Spheniscidae

Eudyptes chrysocome (Rockhopper penguin) 

Eudyptes chrysocome (Rockhopper penguin) 

Rockhopper penguins, Falkland Islands. [photo Holly Gordon ©]

Rockhopper penguin, Falkland Islands. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds on sub-Antarctic and southern temperate islands, dispersing across the sea generally up to 500 km from the colony. There have been 48 records of it in southern Africa up to 1992, most of them along the coast of the Western and Eastern Cape; all but one were found at sea.


It mainly eats small crustaceans, supplemented with squid and fish, especially Lanternfish (Kreffichthys anderssoni). It does most of its foraging within 40 metres of the water surface, rarely descending to a depth of 70 metres. It can swim at up to 7-8 km/h.


Breeds in loose colonies on coastal cliffs, as it is more agile than most other penguins and so can hop up steep slopes.


Vulnerable, with a global population of approximately 3.7 million pairs; many colonies are decreasing rapidly in size.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.