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El hornero

Print version ISSN 0073-3407On-line version ISSN 1850-4884

Hornero vol.21 no.1 Buenos Aires Jan./Aug. 2006


Review of records and notes on King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) and Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) in Brazil

Viviane Barquete 1,3, Leandro Bugoni 1, Rodolfo P. Silva-Filho 2 and Andréa C. Adornes 2

1 Fundação Universidade Federal do Rio Grande (FURG), Depto. de Ciências Morfobiológicas, Lab. Ictioparasitologia. CP 474, CEP 96201-900 Rio Grande/RS, Brazil.
2 Centro de Recuperação de Animais Marinhos, Museu Oceanográfico Prof. Eliézer de Carvalho Rios, Fundação Universidade Federal do Rio Grande (CRAM – MO, FURG).

A review of previous findings and new records of King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) and Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) on the Brazilian coast is presented. In total there are six records of the King Penguin and ten records of the Rockhopper Penguin. Juvenile and adults of both species were found stranded mostly on Rio Grande do Sul coast, southern Brazil. Records of King Penguins are restricted to the summer season, while records of Rockhopper Penguins are mostly during winter. Rockhopper Penguin appears to displace more regularly to the Subtropical Convergence area, while King Penguins appear to be vagrant in Brazil, following the Malvinas Current.

Key words: Aptenodytes patagonicus, Brazilian coast, Eudyptes chrysocome, penguins, records.

Revisión de registros y notas de Pingüino Rey (Aptenodytes patagonicus) y Pingüino Penacho Amarillo (Eudyptes chrysocome) en Brasil
En este estudio se presenta una revisión de hallazgos previos y nuevos registros del Pingüino Rey (Aptenodytes patagonicus) y del Pingüino Penacho Amarillo (Eudyptes chrysocome) en la costa de Brasil. En total se registraron seis individuos de Pingüino Rey y diez de Pingüino de Penacho Amarillo. Tanto juveniles como adultos de las dos especies fueron encontrados en las playas, especialmente en Rio Grande do Sul, sur de Brasil. Los registros de Pingüino Rey están restringidos al verano, mientras que los de Pingüino de Penacho Amarillo ocurrieron en su mayoría en invierno. Aparentemente, la presencia del Pingüino de Penacho Amarillo es más regular en la zona de la Convergencia Subtropical, mientras que el Pingüino Rey es visitante ocasional para la costa de Brasil, siguiendo la Corriente de Malvinas.

Palabras clave: Aptenodytes patagonicus, costa de Brasil, Eudyptes chrysocome, pingüinos, registros.

Received 16 September 2005, accepted 30 December 2005

King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) and Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) have a Sub-Antarctic circumpolar distribution, breeding in several Sub-Antarctic islands (Harrison 1985), with rare records in subtropical waters. Rockhopper Penguins are considered Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, because it is inferred that the population has decreased by at least 30% over the last 30 years based on declines of several sites and a variety of threats (BirdLife International 2004). In this study we present new data and a review of all Brazilian records from 1979 until 2005 (Tables 1 and 2).

Table 1. Records of King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) on the Brazilian coast.

Table 2. Records of Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) on the Brazilian coast. All localities are from Rio Grande do Sul state.

The northernmost record for the King Penguin in Brazil and the only one outside Rio Grande do Sul (southernmost Brazilian state) was a female found alive in Rio de Janeiro in January 1995 (Pacheco et al. 1995). This bird is currently in the Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro. Another two live juvenile birds were photographed in Arroio do Sal Beach, in 1995 (Roman and Soto, unpublished data). In addition, two other King Penguins were found 40 km north of the Uruguayan border in Hermenegildo Beach, in January 2003. One was a live immature male (Soto et al., unpublished data), which died after 24 days at the Centro de Recuperação de Animais Marinhos (Rio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul), and the other was dead, in advanced decomposition. Measurements are shown in Table 3. Finally, another King Penguin (a live adult) was photographed in Tavares, Rio Grande do Sul, in 2003 (Mohr 2004).

Table 3. Measurements of individuals of King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) and Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome) recorded on the Brazilian coast. Numbers and letters are the same as in tables 1 and 2.

The Rockhopper Penguin is known in Brazil based only on records from Rio Grande do Sul. The first one was found alive on an unknown date in Cassino Beach, which died in 1956 (Belton 1994, Mascarenhas et al. 2004), now exposed at the Museu da Universidade Federal de Pelotas. Other two were also found, one dead adult in 1980, between Mostardas and Quintão Beaches, and one individual dead in Cassino Beach, in 1981 (Belton 1994). Furthermore, another two birds were observed at sea in winter, one in 1979 and the other in 1982 (Vooren et al. 1982).

New records of Rockhopper Penguin presented in this study are two stranded, dead individuals in Cassino Beach, one juvenile in 1982 and one adult in 1984. The measurements are presented in Table 3. In addition, one dead oiled adult was photographed in Cassino Beach in the winter of 1995, but no further details are known for this specimen. Furthermore, another bird was found in Cassino Beach in 2003. This bird, a live immature, was molting when arrived, and was released at sea in June 2004, weighing 2.6 kg. Besides, another one (a live, female adult) was found in Mostardas Beach in 2005 (Mohr, unpublished data). Measurements of these birds are presented in Table 3.

In addition to these records mentioned here, there is a record of a flock of 11 Macaroni Penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus) at sea, near Uruguayan border (Sick 1997). Furthermore, stranded juvenile Magellanic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) are quite common along the southern Brazilian coast during winter and spring up to Rio de Janeiro, with scattered records to Alagoas (Belton 1994, Sick 1997).

According to Harrison (1985), fledglings depart from colonies from November to April, depending on hatching period. Most individuals of King Penguin recorded on the Brazilian coast were juveniles or non-breeders, which usually wander more extensively than adults, as in other seabirds (Bourne 1967). Breeding King Penguins from Malvinas Islands perform large foraging trips north of 39°S (Pütz 2002).

Two Rockhopper Penguins were recorded in the breeding period (December and January; Harrison 1985) and are probably non-breeders. On the contrary, both juvenile and adult Rockhopper Penguins were recorded in winter (June-August). This species is a regular visitor in Uruguayan waters during winter (Escalante 1970, Aspiroz 2003), and displaces northward along the Patagonian continental shelf up to 39°S during winter months (Pütz et al. 2002).

All penguin species arrive in Brazil following the cold waters of the Malvinas Current, which commonly reach around 28°S, sometimes extending to 23°S (Campos et al. 1996), what could explain most records from Rio Grande do Sul. The Brazilian Shelf is extensively used as a foraging area by Sub-Antarctic seabirds, such as Black-browed (Diomedea melanophris) and Yellow-nosed (Diomedea chlororhynchos) Albatrosses and Southern Giant-Petrels (Macronectes giganteus) (Neves and Olmos 1997) breeding in the Malvinas, South Georgia, Gough and other Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic islands (Harrison 1985). The penguins recorded in Brazilian waters breed in the same islands, and probably use southern Brazilian waters as feeding grounds. The Rockhopper Penguin appears to be a regular visitor in the Subtropical Convergence area, while King Penguins appear to be vagrant in Brazil, moving north along the Malvinas Current.

Acknowledgements. We are grateful to Luis Fábio Silveira (MZ-USP), Carolus Maria Vooren (FURG) and Glayson Bencke (MCN-FZB-RS), for providing us information on museum specimens.

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