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Different Types of Penguins

Different Types of Penguins

A group of flightless birds, penguins are of many types and are found in the Southern Hemisphere. This article lists some quick facts about some popular penguin species.
Kashmira Lad
Last Updated: Feb 24, 2018
We Are Playful Too!
Penguins love to slide on their tummies while moving over ice or snow. This act is called tobogganing. According to researchers, penguins do this for fun, which is also an efficient way of traveling faster than by running.
Penguins are flightless birds, however, are excellent swimmers. These aquatic animals are mostly native to the Southern Hemisphere. As per common knowledge, it is believed that they are generally found only in cold climates, although there are certain types that live in temperate areas as well.

Seventeen species of penguins can be found in the world. However, there is a great debate about the various species as some are considered as a separate species altogether. Given below is a list of some of the types of penguins found in the world.
Adélie Penguins
Adelie Penguin
Scientific Name: Pygoscelis adeliae

Location: These are found all along the Antarctic coast as well as along the neighboring islands. They are also native to South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

Physical Features: Adélie penguins are around 30-50 cm in length and weigh around 4.5 kg. They also have long feathers that cover a major portion of the red-colored bill. Apart from eating fish and krill, they are known to eat snow as well. They are also easily distinguishable due to a white ring that is seen around their eyes. They are amongst the smallest of the Antarctic penguins. Another interesting fact is that they build their nests by piling stones together. The males are known to look after the eggs. Being very strong and skilled swimmers, they can jump out straight onto land from water.

Diet: Just like emperor penguins, they also feed on aquatic creatures, such as shrimp-like krill, fish, and squid.

IUCN Status: Near Threatened
African Penguins
African Penguin
Scientific Name: Spheniscus demersus

Location: African penguins are found most commonly in South Africa.

Physical Features: The noise that they make sounds like braying, which has earned them the nickname Jackass penguins. These penguins are between 24 to 28 inches tall and weigh between 5 to 7.5 pounds (2 to 3.5 kg). They have pink-colored patches of bare skin above their eyes, which help them to keep cool when the temperature increases. Their backs are black, while the front portion is white with a black band and black dots.

Diet: Their diet mainly consists of fish, but they also eat crustaceans and squid.

IUCN Status: Endangered
Chinstrap Penguins
Chinstrap Penguin
Scientific Name: Pygoscelis antarctica

Chinstrap penguins are found in South Georgia, South Shetland, South Orkneys, Bouvet Island, South Sandwich Islands, Deception Island, and Balleny.

Physical Features:
These penguins get their name due to a thin black band of fur that runs under their neck from one side of the face to another. They are also called ringed or bearded penguins. Adult penguins can be as tall as 25 to 27 inches and weigh up to 13 pounds (6 kg). Their eyes are red-brown, the head and back are black, and the face, neck, and chest are white in color. Their numbers in the wild are sufficient, and they do not face any danger of extinction at present.

Their diet consists of fish, krill, squid, as well as shrimp.

IUCN Status:
Least Concern
Emperor Penguins
Emperor Penguin
Scientific Name: Aptenodytes forsteri

They are native to Antarctica, living on ice and in the cold surrounding waters. They are known for the long journeys that they undertake in their endeavor to mate every year.

Physical Features: These are the largest and also the heaviest penguins that are seen today. Adult emperor penguins can weigh around 35 kg. The belly area is white in color and turns a shade of pale-yellow towards the upper area. Black feathers cover the head and the entire back as well. When compared to other species of birds, they can live and breed in the coldest environment. They are excellent swimmers; they have a speed of around 9 km/h. When on land, they wobble like all other penguins.

Diet: They feed on fish, squid, and krill.

IUCN Status: Near Threatened
Fairy/Little Penguins
Fairy Penguin
Scientific Name: Eudyptula minor

Location: As the name suggests, little penguins are one of the smallest seen on the coastlines of New Zealand and southern Australia.

Physical Features: They are also referred to as fairy penguins, the reason being largely due to their small size. They have a bluish-gray shade on their body and have white bellies. They are known to build their nests under thick plants or also in holes that are found in rocks.

Diet: Since they are found in marine temperate waters, they feed on pelagic fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans once in a while.

IUCN Status: Least Concern
Fiordland Crested Penguins
Fiordland Crested Penguin
Scientific Name: Eudyptes pachyrhynchus

Location: Fiordland crested penguins are found on the Fiordland coast and also on Stewart Island and Rakiura Island.

Physical Features: These penguins have yellow crests on their heads. Their entire body is black and white. They grow to a height of 60 inches and weigh up to 8 pounds (3.5 kg). These penguins are a vulnerable species as their population is very low. There are believed to be as less as 3,000 pairs existing in the wild today.

Diet: Their diet consists of krill, fish, and squid.

IUCN Status:
Galapagos Penguins
Galapagos Penguin
Scientific Name: Spheniscus mendiculus

Location: Galapagos penguins are commonly found on the Galapagos Islands, mainly on Fernandina and western parts of Isabela Islands.

Physical Features: They are banded penguins like the Humboldt, African, and Magellanic species. These penguins are about 19 inches tall and weigh between 5.5 to 6 pounds (2.5 to 2.6 kg). They have a black back and head, and a white chest. A band of white feathers runs downwards from the corners of both the eyes and meets near the chin.

Diet: They mainly feed on small fish.

IUCN Status: Endangered
Gentoo Penguins
Gentoo Penguin
Scientific Name: Pygoscelis papua

Location: These penguins are found on the Falkland Islands, South Shetland Islands, Macquarie Islands, Antarctic Peninsula, Heard Islands, South Georgia, and Kerguelen Islands.

Physical Features: They are between 20 to 35 inches tall and weigh between 11 to 19 pounds (5 to 8.5 kg). They have bright-red or orange beaks, and two streaks of white feathers across their heads on top of their eyes. Their head, neck, and back are black, while the chest is white. They have the biggest tail among all penguin species.

Diet: They mainly feed on krill, other crustaceans, and occasionally on fish.

IUCN Status: Nearly Threatened
Humboldt Penguins
Humboldt Penguin
Scientific Name: Spheniscus humboldti

They are found in South America, in the coastal areas of Chile and Peru.

Physical Features: Also known as Peruvian penguins, Humboldt penguins are named after the Humboldt current, where they swim. They are between 22 to 30 inches tall and weigh between 8 to 13 pounds (3.5 to 6 kg). They have a grayish-black face mask and the back is of the same color. A band of white feathers extends downward from the corner of their eyes to the neck, below the chin. Their chest is white, with a grayish-black band below the white band, extending down to the thighs. There is a small pink area of exposed skin under the beak.

Diet: Their diet consists of fish.

IUCN Status: Vulnerable
*They are protected under the US Endangered Species Act.
King Penguins
King Penguin
Scientific Name: Aptenodytes patagonicus

Location: King Penguins are considered to be the second largest type of the lot seen today. They generally occur in the sub-Antarctic islands, which are in the northern areas of the Antarctic.

Physical Features: They are around 90 cm in height and have an average weight of around 14-16 kg. Their wings are used as flippers when in water, which is the characteristic feature of all penguins. Male king penguins are larger than the females. They have a bluish-gray shade on the outer side. Their belly is white in color, and the color turns a shade of black towards the head region. On an average, their swimming speed is around 6.5 km/h.

Diet: They feed on pelagic fish, in particular lanternfish, cephalopods (to a minor extent), and crustaceans.

IUCN Status: Least Concern
Macaroni Penguins
Macaroni Penguin
Scientific Name: Eudyptes chrysolophus

Location: These penguins are found from the Sub-Antarctic to the Arctic Peninsula. They breed on the Antarctic Peninsula, islands surrounding Cape Horn, Falklands, Heard Island, South Georgia, Prince Edward, South Sandwich, South Shetland, South Orkneys, Marion, and Macquarie Island.

Physical Features: They are close relatives of Royal penguins. They are about 28 inches in length and weigh up to 12 pounds. They have a black face and back, while the chest is white in color. There are two yellow-colored crests of feathers above the eyes. Their eyes are red in color, and the beak is brownish-orange.

Diet: Their diet consists of krill and other crustaceans, small fish, and squid.

IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Magellanic Penguins
Magellanic Penguin
Scientific Name: Spheniscus magellanicus

Location: These penguins are found in South America, in the coastal areas of Chile, Brazil (to some extent), Falkland Islands, and Argentina.

Physical Features: They get their name from their discoverer, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. These penguins are mid-sized and are between 24 to 30 inches tall. They weigh between 6 to 14 pounds (2.8 to 6.5 kg). They have a black head and back, and a white chest. There is a white band of feathers that runs from behind their eyes and ears that meets at the throat. There is another black band on their chest that looks like an inverted 'U', which ends at the thighs.

Diet: They feed on krill, cuttlefish, other crustaceans, and also squid.

IUCN Status: Near Threatened
Rockhopper Penguins
Rockhopper Penguin
Scientific Name: Southern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome); Northern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi)

Location: Rockhopper penguins are found on almost all types of islands in the Antarctic. They are also spotted along the boundaries of the islands north of Antarctica, from Chile to New Zealand.

Physical Features: They are rather small in size and can reach up to around 55 cm in length. They weigh around 3.35 kg on an average. They have been given their name because of their behavior to hop and jump over rocks. They have red beaks, red-colored eyes, and a striking shade of yellow on their eyebrows. Their nests are found on rocky hills. They use pebbles and twigs to build their nests.

Diet: They feed on a diet of fish, krill, and even squid at times.

IUCN Status:
  • Southern Rockhopper Penguin: Vulnerable
  • Northern Rockhopper Penguin: Endangered
Yellow-eyed Penguins
Yellow-eyed Penguin
Scientific Name: Megadyptes antipodes

Location: Yellow-eyed penguins are endemic to New Zealand. They are found in Foveaux Strait, Campbell Island, Otago peninsula, Stewart Island, and Auckland Island.

Physical Features: Originally thought to be related to Fairy penguins, studies show that they are actually relatives of the Crested penguins. They are between 25 to 30 inches tall. They weigh between 12 to 18 pounds (5 to 8 kg) before molting, and between 6.5 to 13 pounds (3 to 6 kg) after molting. Adults have light-yellow heads and even lighter-yellow irises, whereas young ones have gray heads and irises. Adults also have a yellow band that extends from their eyes to the back of their heads.

Diet: Their diet includes blue cod, squid, opal fish, ahuru, and other small fish.

IUCN Status: Endangered
Erect-crested Penguins
Scientific Name: Eudyptes sclateri

Location: These penguins are native to New Zealand. They are found on Falklands Islands, Chatham Islands, Antipodes Islands, and Bounty Islands.

Physical Features: The adults are between 20 to 27 inches tall and weigh between 5.5 to 13 pounds (3 to 6 kg). Their back and face are bluish-black, and their neck and chest are white in color. They have short, yellow-colored stripes for eyebrows, which form crests on their head.

Diet: Although not much is known about what these penguins eat, it is believed that they feed on fish, krill, and other crustaceans.

IUCN Status: Endangered
Royal Penguins
Scientific Name: Eudyptes schlegeli

Location: Royal penguins are found on many islands surrounding Antarctica. However, the specialty of these penguins is that they only breed on the Macquarie Islands and nowhere else.

Physical Features: Royals have crests on their heads which makes them look very similar to Macaroni penguins. However, their faces and chins are white. They are between 25 to 30 inches long and weigh between 7 to 17 pounds (3 to 8 kg). They make their nests by digging small holes in the sand. They care for their young ones for 2 months, after which the babies take off on their own.

Diet: They feed on crustaceans, myctophid fish, shrimp, and cephalopods.

IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Snares Penguins
Scientific Name: Eudyptes robustus

Location: These penguins are found in New Zealand on Snares Islands, an island group located at the south of South Island. They have also been spotted in Australia, Tasmania, Stewart Island, and the Chatham Islands.

Physical Features: These are small to mid-sized creatures that are between 22 to 28 inches tall and weigh between 5.5 to 9 pounds (2.5 to 4 kg). They have a black face and back, and a white chest. There are two crests of yellow feathers over their red-colored eyes. Their numbers in the wild are reported to be bleak, with just 25,000 surviving pairs.

Diet: Their diet consists primarily of krill, but they also eat squid and small fish.

IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Penguins are very fascinating creatures. They are quite intelligent animals, and their way of living, which is unique to every species, is a wonder to study about.
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