Adelie Penguin Facts
- The Adelie Penguin is a blue-eyed species of penguin common along the entire coast of Antarctica which is its only natural habitat. This remarkable bird remains among the most southerly distributed of all seabirds.
- The bird bears the name of Adelie Land, a claimed territory on the continent which in turn was named after the wife of French explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville. It was he who discovered these Penguins in 1840.
- The Adelie Penguin represents one of three species in the genus Pygocelis. DNA evidence suggests that the genus split from other penguins around 38 million years ago.
- In turn, this penguin split off from the other members of the genus around 19 million years ago.
Adelie Penguin Physical Description
The Adelie Penguin constitutes a mid-sized animal which attains a maximum height of about 30 in. (75 cm). In weight, the adults average 13.2 lb. (6 kg).
A genetic trait appears in the form of a distinctive white ring surrounding the eye and the feathers at the base of the bill. These long feathers hide most of the red bill.
The tail grows slightly longer than that of other penguins. At this weight and height, the animal measures slightly smaller than other penguin species.
The Adelie Penguin also has the rather remarkable ability to swim at speeds of up to 45 mph (72 kph).
Species: P. adeliae
Adelie Penguin Habitat and Distribution
The Adelie Penguin population inhabits the coastline of the Antarctic continent. However, very few penguins appear to breed in the quarter of the continent eastwards of the Antarctic Peninsula. Only a few small colonies are present in this region.
While the breeding season lasts, the unique animal congregates in large colonies some of which number over a quarter of a million pairs. Individual colonies can vary dramatically in size with some particularly vulnerable to climate change.
The Adélie Penguin breeds during the Antarctic summer so from October to February on shores around the continent. This seabird will build rough nests of stones and lay on average two eggs.
Both parents take turns incubating the eggs for 32 to 34 days. The chicks remain in the nest for 22 days before joining nurseries where they cannot yet enter the seas. The chicks will molt into their juvenile plumage and go out to sea for the first time after roughly 50 to 60 days.
Adelie Penguin Diet and Migration
The Adelie Penguin primarily feeds upon ice krill, Antarctic krill, and Glacial Squid. Its diet varies widely depending on the geographic location during the chick-rearing season.
Evidence indicates that the animal once fed primarily upon fish. However, approximately 200 hundred years ago the seabird began to switch to a mostly krill-based diet, which may be the direct result of fewer numbers of its chief competitors for the local fish supply. This happened when the numbers of baleen whales and fur seals began to decline due to hunting.
The Adelie Penguin can migrate an average 8,100 mi (13,000 km) during the year. It follows the sun from the breeding colonies to winter foraging grounds and back again. The longest recorded migrations have been as much as 10,900 mi (17,600 km).