Fun Facts About the Penguins of Antarctica
Enjoy our fun facts about the penguins of Antarctica.
With a collection of movies and documentaries spotlighting flightless birds, it would appear that Hollywood is obsessed with penguins. And for good reason—these adorable, waddling birds are friendly creatures that inhabit the frozen tundra of Antarctica, as well as the surrounding Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands. Those who travel on Hurtigruten expedition cruises to the Antarctic region will get an up-close look at this curious species, and we wanted to give you a primer:
- While there are 17 species of penguin overall, the Antarctic continent is home to only four breeding species. The most common is chinstrap, which owes its name to the narrow black band under its head, followed by Adélie. The remaining breeding species are emperor and gentoo. Read more about the penguins of Antarctica.
- Three species live and nest on the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands: macaroni, rockhopper, and king.
- Galápagos penguins live the furthest north of all the species, as this Ecuadorian archipelago straddles the Equator. Reminder: There are no penguins in the Arctic.
- Emperor penguins are the largest species, standing up to 50 inches tall, and can dive up to 1,850 feet.
- Often called 'flippered flyers,' penguins are able to move effortlessly through the water. Though they are unable to fly, their wings are developed for vigorous swimming.
- While most penguins can swim between four and seven miles per hour, gentoo penguins—the fastest—can reach up to 22!
- In order to survive the harsh Antarctic environment, penguins often huddle together to conserve warmth. Individuals take turns moving to the group's protected center and, after the penguin has become relatively warm, it will move to the outer perimeter of the group, changing places with a colder penguin.
- Male emperor penguins sit on their eggs for over two months, withstanding icy temperatures and immense wind chills, in order to keep their future offspring warm.
- A group of penguins is called a colony.
- A group of penguin chicks is called a creche.
- Penguins vary in weight: from little blue penguins weighing as little as two pounds, to emperors weighing up to 90 pounds.
- Females sometimes travel up to 50 miles to reach the open ocean, where they find fish, squid, and krill. When they return to the breeding site, they carry a stomach full of food that they regurgitate to their young.
Photo: Jesper Nielsen, Marsel van Oosten and Andreas Kalvig Anderson