Antarctic Wildlife: Penguins

Polar bears are only found around the North Pole, an area we call the Arctic. And just as there are no polar bears in Antarctica, there are no penguins in the Arctic. That’s a good one to quiz your parents with!

What does this creature or plant look like?:

You probably know that penguins can’t fly. They lost their ability to fly millions of years ago. To make up for it, they have become brilliant swimmers and divers. Some can dive to over 500 meters/1,600 feet, which is important because their favorite food, krill, can be quite deep depending on the time of day and season of year. In the water, penguins are also fast, which they need to be if they are to catch their other favorite food, silverfish. They also need a burst of speed if they are to be able to launch themselves out of the sea and up onto the edges of the ice floes which can be a meter/three feet or more high.

How did I feel when I saw it?:

There are eighteen species of penguin, but only five that are native to the inshore areas around the frozen continent. Here I am only going to mention the two main ones, the emperor and the Adélie. These are the two species that you see in the film ‘Happy Feet’. Which, by the way, is quite true to life! Of course the penguins do not sing and dance and do chest-bumps, but the film caught the way they move and hunt as well as their breeding cycle and, of course, the threat to their existence from human pollution and overfishing. 

The emperors are the largest species of penguin on earth. They are a little over hip height (about 115 cm) and are easy to spot because of the yellow-gold colouring around their ears and upper chest.