Antarctic Wildlife: Penguins

They are very friendly and will walk right up to humans and inspect them closely though large and rather distant-looking eyes. When they walk they kind of wobble from one side to the other, but when they want to move a bit faster they get down on their tummies and toboggan along using their feet for propulsion. In the water they can dive deeper and stay down longer than any other penguin.

Where does it live?:

Adélie penguins, by contrast, are very different in both size and appearance. They are only about knee-height (about 70 centimeters/28 inches) and have distinctive white circles around their eyes. Their characters are also very different from that of the emperors. They are exceptionally curious and will come right up to you and peck at your shoe laces. They can also be quite feisty; I have seen them fighting off scavenger gulls when they are stalking their chicks and even chasing a frightened scientist. 

Like most penguins, Adélies are quite social. During the breeding season, which lasts from October to March, they gather in huge colonies called rookeries and lay two eggs in a nest that is made of small stones. Each nest is just out of pecking distance from the next, but this doesn’t stop them from squabbling or stealing their neighbours’ stones.

When they are not nesting, Adélies often move about in groups. The last time I was in the Antarctic, we were playing a game of soccer on the ice when the pitch was invaded by a band of Adélie penguins. Basically, they just wanted to see what was going on because, when they got to the centre of the pitch, they just stopped and stared at us. Of course, that was the end of our game.