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Adelie Penguin

The Adelie penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) is, along with the Emperor Penguin, one of the only two types of penguin living on the mainland of Antarctica. It is named after French explorer Dumont d’Urville’s wife, Adelie. They form large colonies on the coasts of the mainland as well as on some nearby islands. There is one colony on Ross Island that consists of approximately half a million Adelie Penguins. This species is common along the entire Antarctic coast.

This rather small penguin measures about 60 to 70 cm long and weighs an average of 5 kg. Distinctive marks characterizing this penguin are the white ring surrounding the eye and the feathers at the base of the bill – these long feathers hide most of the red bill. Also, the tail is a slightly longer than other penguins’ tails.

Adelie Penguins arrive at their breeding grounds in October where they begin to build their nests of stones which they pile together. The males summon the females with a low guttural noise followed by a loud cry. It is now December, the warmest month in Antarctica (about -2°C). The parents take turns incubating the egg; one goes to feed and the other stays to keep the egg warm and safe. During this time the parent who is incubating the egg will not eat. Usually the Adelie penguin will lay two eggs which are either brown or green in color. In March the adults and their young return to the sea.

This penguin feeds mainly on crustaceans, such as krill and fish.

Adelie Penguin


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