The Macquarie Island endemic penguin (only occurs on Macquarie Island) is the royal penguin. The total population is believed to be around 2 million. Each summer they return to the island to breed, climbing from the breaches up to rookeries, where they pair up (usually for life) lay eggs, hatch out chicks and then raise the chicks till they are ready to go to sea.
One of the great experiences in spending the summer on the island is to watch the wildlife go through their breeding cycles. A few weeks ago the royal penguin colonies started to leave their rookeries and head out to sea — they needed to head off shore to feed up in preparation for a return to land to moult. The rookeries have been full again over the last few weeks as they moult and then emerge in a bright new coat of feathers. In the next few weeks the royal penguins will head out to sea for the winter, and they won’t be seen again till next summer.