Antarctica Wildlife

Penguins

which penguins can be found in antarctica?

Penguins are known to be some of the most endearing and intriguing wildlife on earth, famous for their 'smart' attire and comedic waddle. During your time in Antarctica and south Georgia, you will hopefully see myriad species, proving each is unique and special in physical characteristics, and character. 

King Penguin

King penguins are the second largest penguins weighing between 11-16 kg (24-35 lb) and have an eye-catching patch of orange-gold feathers on their neck. They are expert divers, consistently plummeting to depths of over 250 metres, but on land they appear slow and clumsy. They feed on small fish and squid and are not as reliant on krill and other crustaceans as the majority of predators in the Southern Ocean. Unlike their closest cousin, the emperor penguin, they prefer warmer climates and live and breed in subantarctic territories such as South Georgia and other vegetated temperate islands.

Chinstrap Penguin

Chinstrap penguins are the most common in the Antarctic regions, with an estimated population of eight million pairs found just on the Antarctic Peninsula. Their name comes from the narrow black band of feathers across the cheeks; and their black head make it look as though they are wearing a helmet making them easy to identify. Their diet consists of mainly crustaceans and they can dive to up 70 metres. 

They nest on ice-free slopes in huge colonies and can often be found amongst their closest relatives, Gentoo and Adélie penguins.

Gentoo Penguin

The gentoo penguin has the most prominent tail of all penguins, and as they waddle along on land, it sticks out behind, sweeping from side to side. They are the third largest after the king and emperor penguins and are the least prominent in the Antarctic, but with about 300,000 breeding pairs are still quite numerous. They are characterised by a white patch around and behind the eye that joins on the crown, and have a bright red-orange beak. Nesting often occurs amongst tussocks, and on the Antarctic Peninsula on stony ice-free areas and beaches. It is unknown where the name ‘gentoo’ comes from.

Adélie Penguin

Adélie penguins, named after the wife of French Antarctic explorer Dumont d’Urville, are true Antarctic penguins and are confined to the coastal waters of the great white continent. They are a medium sized penguin with black heads and beaks, but their most noticeable feature is a white ring around the eye. Like all penguins, they are expert divers and can plunge to depths of 175 metres, but catch most of their food at the surface and it consists mainly of krill. During the winter they roam around the pack ice and in summer they return south to the Antarctic coast.

Macaroni Penguin

The macaroni penguin is one of the six species of crested penguin. The crest refers to the orange tufty plumes on their eyebrows and was thought to resemble the bizarre ‘Macaroni Coiffure’ of the 18th Century and gave birth to their name. They are probably the most abundant in terms of numbers with an estimated population of 12 million pairs, and the majority are found inhabiting the subantarctic islands such as South Georgia. They are extremely colonial and often forming massive colonies of hundreds and thousands, generally nesting on hillsides and rocky cliffs.

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