This is a small-to-medium-sized, yellow-crested, black-and-white penguin, at 50–70 cm (20–28 in) and weighing 2.5–6 kg (5.5–13 lb). As in all penguin species, the male is slightly larger than the female and the birds weigh the most prior to moulting. It has bluish-black to jet black upperparts and white underparts, and a broad, bright yellow eyebrow-stripe which extends over the eye to form a short, erect crest.
Its biology is poorly studied and only little information about the species has emerged in the past decades. Erect-crested Penguins nest in large colonies on rocky terrain. It presumably feeds on mainly krill and squid like other crested penguin species.
The current status of this penguin is endangered due to population decline and a small breeding range restricted to two locations. The current population is estimated at 154,000.
The binomial commemorates the British zoologist Philip Lutley Sclater.
The mascot character of the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion is an erect-crested penguin named Pen Pen.