Little Blue Penguin (Eudyptula)
"Little Good Diver

There are 6 subspecies of the Eudyptula penguin. One of those subspecies, the White Flippered Penguin ( Eudyptula m albosignata) I have treated as a separate species. However recent DNA studies suggest that New Zealand's North Island and Chatham Island Little Blue Penguins are a separate species from the Australian Fairy or Little Penguin. The White Flippered penguin is probably going to be regarded as a subspecies of the New Zealand Little Blue Penguin. Hopefully more definitive information will becoming in the near future. We are now talking about possibly 20 separate penguin species.

Eudyptula minor


They are the smallest of all the penguins measuring about 16 to 17 inches in length and weighing around 2 pounds. 4 of the 5 Eudptula species and the White Flippered penguin breed in New Zealand, but 60% of the breeding population is in Australia. They have slate blue to black feathers, a white chin and chest and bluish-gray eyes. They are the most nocturnal of all penguins. They prefer the warm waters off southern Australia and New Zealand. The breeding sites of the subspecies are: E. m. minor, South Island of New Zealand from Karamea in the west and Oamaru in the east and Stewart Island; the only Australian based little blue penguin E. m. novaehollandiae, the coasts and islands of west and south Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania; E. m. iredalei, North Island south to Kawhia and east to East Cape; E. m. variabilis, North Island south to Cape Egmont and Hawke Bay; E. m. chathamenis, Chatham Islands. There are an estimated 500,000 breeding pairs and the population is stable. Their diet consists of small fish and squid. They generally lay 2 eggs (93%) and success rate is between 47% to 78%. They have the smallest chicks of all penguins weighing just 35 grams. They rely on burrows and a nocturnal lifestyle to avoid predators as swamp harriers, peregrines, gulls, snakes rats and lizards. Introduced mammals are significant predators in some locations. They can dive to a depth of greater than 49 feet, with the dives lasting 20 to 40 seconds. They can swim 1.6 to 2.0 mph.

White Flippered Penguin(Eudyptula albosignnata)

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They are slightly larger and heavier than the little blue penguins. They have lighter plumage and have large areas of white plumage on the dorsal surface of their wings (see pictures above). Like the little blue penguins, they are burrow breeders. They are similar to the little blue in all other aspects. According to Chris Challies (New Zealand naturalist) when I last spoke with him, there was DNA evidence that the White Flippered Penguin is a distinct species from the little blue penguins. Their population is estimated at 3,750 breeding pairs and is considered endangered. They lay two white eggs that are incubated by both parents over 55 days. They live an average of 15 to 17 years, the oldest recorded being 23 years 8 months.

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