Human disturbance on subantarctic yellow-eyed penguins
What is it about?
Enderby Island (part of the Auckland Island archipelago, in the New Zealand sub-Antarctic) is thought to have the highest density of Yellow-eyed Penguins (Megadyptes antipodes, hōiho) in the world. It is also the only place in the subantarctic where tourists regularly come into contact with Yellow-eyed Penguins. Restrictions and guidelines for tourism are in place on Enderby Island, but there has been little study on the efficacy of these. This paper examines the behavioural impact of human presence, and compares this to the natural disturbance caused by the New Zealand sea lion (Phocarctos hookeri). We also present ideas on how regulation of tourism in the subantarctic could be improved to reduce anthropogenic impact on this vulnerable species.
Why is it important?
Tourism in the New Zealand subantarctic is presently at low levels, so the current effect is likely to be low. However, the negative impact of human presence shown in this study indicates the importance of minimising the number of human-penguin interactions. Our study shows the importance of having regulations and guidelines with a scientific basis for reducing human disturbance in wildlife.
The following have contributed to this page: Rebecca French