There are only 18 penguin species in the world, and of those, more than two-thirds are vulnerable, threatened or endangered, so any mass penguin deaths are cause for concern. According to the Otago Daily Times, more than 40 adult yellow-eyed penguins have died in recent weeks, with the deaths spread among most local breeding colonies. The cause of the die-off is not yet know, but it is feared that the devastation may spread because the dead adults are leaving chicks without appropriate care.
There are many threats penguins face, from natural disasters to human factors that destroy feeding areas and nesting grounds. Yellow-eyed penguins are one of the most critically endangered of the penguin species, and conservationists fear that it may take the birds decades to recover from this latest tragedy.
Photo © Richard Giddins