Expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia, Cape
Horn, Falklands & Tierra Del Fuego
On this virtual tour you may see: Majestic mountains dipped
in snow... Crystalline waterways...
Whales, seals, Soaring Andes condors...
Ice-blue Glaciers that shimmer like jewels..
Penguins belong to the class Aves (the birds), and are members
of the order Sphenisciformes, which contains only one family, Spheniscidae,
of which all penguin species are members.
This single-family order is known as "Gregg's paraox", after the
first taxonomer to complain about it. There are 18 species of penguins alive
today, divided into 6 genera:
* Eudyptes: 6 species
* Spheniscus 4 species
* Pygocelis 3 species
* Aptenodytes 2 species
* Eudyptula 1 (or 2) species
* Megadyptes 1 species
* Genus Aptenodytes Aptenodytes means "Featherless Diver".
The Aptenodytes are the largest and most colourful penguins, with bright
orange/yellow ear-patches and chest markings.
* Aptenodytes forsteri Common Name: Emperor Height: 115cm Weight: 30kg
* Aptenodytes patagonicus Common Name: King Height: 94cm Weight: 15kg
Distribution: Macquarie, Marion, Prince Edward, Kerluegen, Crozet, South
Georgia, South Sandwitch
* Genus Pygocelis Pygocelis means "Brush Tailed". The pygocelids
are most people's idea of the classic black and white penguin, the star
of a thousand cartoons.
* Pygocelis antarctica Common Name: Chinstrap Height: 68cm Weight: 4.5kg
Distribution: South Shetlands, South Orkneys, South Sandwich, Antarctic
Peninsuala to 65 degrees
* Pygocelis papua Common Name: Gentoo Height: 71cm Weight: 6kg
Distribution: north Antarctic Peninsuala to 65 degrees S, South Shetlands,
South Orkneys, South Sandwich, Macquari, Falklands, Staten Island
There are three sub-species of the gentoo:
* Pygocelis papua papua
* Pygocelis papua elsworthii
* Pygocelis papua taeniata
* Pygocelis adeliae Common Name: Adzlie Height: 71cm Weight: 5kg
Distribution: coastal Antarctica, South Shetlands, South Orkneys, South
Sandwich, Antarctic Peninsuala
* Genus Megadyptes Megadyptes means "Large Diver".
* Megadyptes antipodes Common Names: Hoiho, Yellow-eyed
Height: 66cm Weight: 5kg
Distribution: south New Zealand
* Genus Spheniscus Spheniscus means "Wedge shaped"
* Spheniscus demersusCommon Names: Blackfooted, Jackass Height: 71cm Weight:
Distribution: south and south-west Africa
* Spheniscus humbodlti Common Name: Peruvian, Humbodlt Height: 66cm
Distribution: Peruvian and Chilean coastal islands
* Spheniscus magellanicus Common Name: Magellanic Height: 71cm Weight:
Distribution: southern Chile, Patagonia, Tiera del Fuego, Staten, Falklands
* Spheniscus mendiculus Common Name: Galapýgos Height: 53cm
Distribution: Albemarle and Narborough in the Galapgos
* Genus Eudyptes Eudyptes means "Beautiful Diver". The Eudyptes
penguins all have yellow crest feathers.
* Eudyptes chrysolophus Common Name: Macaroni Height: 71cm Weight: 4.5kg
Distribution: Kerguelen, Crozet, Falklands, Marion, Heard, South Georgia,
South Shetlands, South Sandwitch, Bouvet
* Eudyptes sclateri Common Name: Erect-crested Height: 66cm Weight:
Distribution: Antiposes, Bounty, Campbell, south New Zealand
* Eudyptes pachyrhynchus Common Name: Fjordland Height: 56cm Weight:
Distribution: south west New Zealand, Steward Island
* Eudyptes crestata Common Name: Rockhopper Height: 56cm Weight:
Distribution: Tristan group, New Amsterdam, St Paul, Heard, Macquarie,
Staten, Falklands, Marion, Kerguelen, Crozetrs, Antipodes, Auklans, Bounty,
Tierra del Fuego
* Eudyptes schlegeli Common Name: Royal Height: 61cm Weight: 4.5kg
Distribution: Macquarie Island
* Eudyptes roubustus Common Name: Snares Island Height: 53cm Weight: 3kg
Distribution: Snares Island
* Genus Eudyptula Eudyptula means "Small beautiful diver".
The Eudyptulas are the smallest of all the penguins, being only about 40cm
tall, and weighing about 1kg. Some people do not consider Eudyptula albosignata
to be a species distinct from Eudyptula minor.
* Eudyptula minor Common Names: Kororaa, Little blue, Fairy Height: 38cm
Distribution: north New Zealand, southern Australia
There are three sub-species of the Kororaa:
* Eudyptula minor minor
* Eudyptula minor novae holadiae
* Eudyptula minor iredalei
* Eudyptula albosignata Common Name: White-flippered Height: 40cm Weight:
Distribution: New Zealand south island, Banks Peninsula
References Bernard Stonehouse (ed),  The Biology of Penguins Macmillan,
London Bernard Stonehouse  Penguins Golden Press, New York George
Simpson  Penguins: Past and Present, Here and There Yale University
Press, New Haven
Did You Know?
Facts about Penguins and the Antarctica
They are devoted Penguin Dads!
After the female emperor penguin lays her egg, she goes back to the sea
to find some food.
The male puts the egg on top of his feet.
Then he covers it with his warm feathers to protect it from the icy Antarctic
Penguins have a thick layer of fat called blubber.
The blubber helps keep their body heat in.
They have a heavy layer of feathers to help keep them dry.
All of the world's seventeen penguin species can be found only in the southern
hemisphere, but seven species live in the Antarctic.
1.Emperor penguin (1 m)
2.King penguin (94 cm)
3.Adelie (71 cm)
4.Gentoo (71 cm)
5. Macaroni (71 cm)
6. Chinstrap (68 cm)
7. Rockhopper (56 cm)
The emperor penguin is the largest penguin.
It may weigh up to 220 kg (100 lbs) and stand up to 106.68 cm (42 inches)
They are the only penguins to stay in the Antarctica all year round.
Penguins have very little nest-building material because
so few plants grow in the Antarctic.King and emperor
penguins do not make nests at all. They lay their eggs on
bare ground or ice. Other Antarctic penguins make nests by
scraping a shallow hole in the ground and filling it with
Penguins often look clumsy when they are walking on land. In water, though,
they are very graceful. They almost fly through the water and can stay under
for up to 18 minutes.
One of the greatest dangers to penguins is being caught by a leopard seal.
These seals eat all kinds of penguins, but Adelies are their main food.
Leopard seal dangers
The leopard seal lies in wait in the water, hiding underneath a ledge of
which juts out over the surface of the sea.
Adelie penguins gather on the ledge, on their way to feed in the sea.
Those at the front start to jump into the water.
The leopard seal immediately darts out rom its hiding place and grabs
one of the penguins from behind.
The other penguins escape by swimming away, or by leaping out of the water,
back to the safety of the ledge.
Rookeries are dirty, noisy places.
Thousands of squawking, pecking penguins gather there at
breeding times. Despite the crowds, each penguin knows its
own mate or chick by calling to them, and by recognizing
their answering call.
are very fierce. They get their name because they have
spiky, golden feathers above their eyes. These feathers are
especially bright when the penguins are courting (looking
for mates). There are two kinds of crested penguins living
in the Antarctic-macaronis and rockhoppers.
Why don't penguins get frost- bitten toes?
You would never think of
going out in the winter without wearing socks and boots. But
penguins, who live mostly in the Antarctic, can walk on ice
in bare feet without minding at all. A penguin's body is
perfectly suited for life in a frozen world, and its feet
are no exception. They have many tough little pads on the
bottom and these are the only areas that touch the ground.
As well, if penguins are standing around, they will always
keep a portion of their feet off the ground by rocking back
Protecting the baby penguins
Snow whirls through the air. The wind howls. There's a blizzard coming
to the icy land around the South Pole. That's where the
emperor penguins live. The grown- up penguins hurry about,
pushing all the baby penguins together. Then the grown- ups
crowd together in a tight circle around the babies. This is
how the grown- up penguins protect the babies.
Antarctica is one of the world's driest deserts, with
less than two inches of precipitation per year at the South
Pole.Almost no snow falls in the interior of Antarctica.The
coasts receive more, and as much as 30 inches (76.2 cm) of
precipitation (both snow and rain) sometimes fall on the
Antarctic Peninsula. During the austral winter (March to
September), sea ice at least doubles the size of the
continent. Ninety-eight percent (98 %) of the Antarctic
continent is covered by a permanent ice sheet. How cold is
Antarctica? It's a good place to CHILL OUT!! During its
winter, temperatures in the interior can drop to a
bone-chilling -128 degrees F (-89 degrees C). Along the
coast, the temperatures warm up to -20 degrees F (-28.9
degrees C). The summertime (December to February) brings an
Arctic heat wave. Temperatures may rise to the -30s and -40s
inland, and above freezing along the coast. Because of its
remote location and harsh environment, Antarctica is one of
Earth's last frontier. No one lives there permanently, but
people do visit. Many are scientists and the people who
operate research stations. Why do icebergs float? Icebergs
are lighter than ocean water because they do not contain
salt. They are made from fresh-water rain or snow. Only
about one-eighth of an iceberg shows above water. The rest
is hidden underwater. Penguin, seabird and seal population
in the Antarctic is boundless! There are six species of
seals living in the Southern ocean. The Weddell seal spends
the entire dark winter under the solid sea ice. But being a
mammal, it must breath air. It survives by gnawing small
breathing holes in the ice. All that ice chewing often means
serious teeth problem for seals in later life, and feeding
problems cause more trouble for older Weddell seals than
predators do. Algae and phytoplankton and zooplankton are
the beginning of an important food chain. They are eaten by
shrimp-like creatures called krill. There are more krill
than any other animal in the world. Krill in turn serve as
the primary food for other Antarctic marine animals,
including fish, penguins,seals and whales. In the 1770s,
the famous explorer Captain James Cook was the first person
to sail into Antarctic waters.
The Emperor penguin
is truly the supreme and most dignified of all penguins,
as it towers above the rest at an amazing 115 cm. Its weight
falls in synch with its height; it weighs-in at just over 30
kilograms, but male weight can vary up to half that amount
depending on the length of breeding. Males and females are
indistinguishable during most of the year; however, when it
becomes time for the male to switch responsibilities with
the female, the male can be half the weight of the female.
Chicks are easily identified; they are the darlings of the
The Emperor penguin is the only penguin that
inhabits the Antarctic continent solely. Populations have
declinded somewhat since Bernard Stonehouse's accounts;
about 220,000 stable breeding pairs roam around these ice
shelves. Breeding occurs in late May or June and extends in
to our winter. I would consider them migratory.
Most penguins lay around two eggs; Emperor females
lay one and only one. Ovulation and egg laying is too
energetically expensive beyond the first egg, and caring for
more than one proves impossible.
The Emperor penguin feeds primarily on shaoling fish
and squid, but whenever it comes across small crustaceans,
it doesn't refuse them. Foraging presents predators with
opportunities. Mostly these predators are orcas and the
various seals (leopard) that actually make it that far
south. Giant petrels prey upon eggs and chicks or remains.
Emperor penguins Aptenodytes forsteri breed on sea
ice and islets off the coast of the Antarctic continent.
About two dozen colonies are known, ranging in size from
less than 200 pairs (Dion Islands) to over 50,000 pairs
(Coulman Island). In a survey of known colonies Budd (1962)
estimated a world population of about 240,000 breeding
birds. Geographical subspeciation does not appear to have
occurred. Emperors assemble on the breeding colonies early
in winter, shortly after the sea ice has formed, and lay in
May or June. The single egg, held on the feet is incubated
only by the males which huddle together tightly throughout
the coldest months of winter, in temperatures which often
fall below -40C. Females winter at sea, returning to the
colonies seven to eight weeks after laying to relieve their
mates and tend the newly hatched chicks. Chicks grow slowly
at first, more rapidly in late spring, and reach
independence by midsummer.
If you would like to get to know wonderful Antarctica
and don't have time for a boat, go by airplane:
We have 2 day overnight adventure expeditions available.