NZ's much-loved yellow-eyed penguin could be extinct in next 10 to 20 years

Researchers are concerned New Zealand's yellow-eyed penguins could be closer to extinction than first thought.

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They’re already one of the rarest penguins in the world. And now we’re closer to losing them than first thought. Source: 1 NEWS

This comes after record lows for nesting areas have been observed around the country.

Forest & Bird statistics show nest numbers have dropped nationwide by 12 per cent compared to last year.

Otago University researchers will attach cameras to a group of yellow-eyed penguins next month looking to identify where they venture to at sea, along with the food they're eating and where they find it.

"Our projection said that they would be gone by 2060," Otago University's Thomas Mattern told 1 NEWS.

"The problem is that the actual observed numbers that we've seen since we published that paper are far lower than even the lower threshold... so it could happen in the next 10 to 20 years really," he said.

It's hoped the research will show why numbers are declining so fast.