Today, March 7, I learned about penguins and other wildlife in Antarctica. Each day there are several educational sessions on various topics such as penguins, whales, birds, geography, and more. The penguin presenter, Noah the Bird Nerd–as he introduced himself–spoke about the species of penguins that exist, where they originated, which kind we will see on our journey, and more. Since I know everyone loves penguins and I’ll be taking a lot of photos of the cute creatures, I thought I’d share a few fun facts I captured during the session.
- The closest living relative to a penguin is a bird called an Albatross. It’s a common ancestor that can fly and swim, so its believed that penguins lost their ability to fly to become better swimmers.
- Penguins are a marine bird. They only come to land to nest.
- They can swim more than 100 kilometers a day!
- Emperor penguins can dive 1/3 mile under surface; King penguins can dive several hundred meters.
- There once was a species of penguin that stood six feet tall, which sounds terrifying.
- Penguins are only found in the southern hemisphere.
- Only two species are completely restricted to Antarctica–Adelie and Gentoo.
- Most species of penguins are found elsewhere (not Antarctica) below the southern hemisphere, Southern South America, South Africa, Galapagos Islands, South Georgia, etc.
- How to tell a male vs. female is difficult, but males are typically larger and muscular looking.
- Also, “When mating, the male is always on top, so if you see a penguin with mud on its back, that will most likely be the female,” facts by Noah.
I’ve only begun to learn about the animals and ecosystem in Antarctica, but in doing so, I’ve also learned how climate change has disrupted life for many of these creatures. As Antarctica continues to heat up, the Adelie penguins are forced to relocate south to find cooler climate. Once they head south, they are forced to compete with the Gentoo penguins, and this has been a losing battle. The decline of this species is a visible and evident example of the dangers we’re facing as our planet continues to heat up.
Last fact, the penguins and wildlife in general in Antarctic have no fear of humans since they’re rarely exposed to our kind. They are very curious and I’m told if you sit down on the ice they will approach you, maybe even jump into your lap. We’re not allowed to walk toward them, but there’s no stopping them from socializing with us. I’ll be GoPro ready for that interaction.
I’d love to hear about any other facts you may have in the comments below!
Photos by Trent Branson