Gentoo Penguin

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image: gentoopenguin.jpg

Common Name: Gentoo Penguin
Scientific Name: Pygoscelis papua

Size: 30-36 inches (75-90 cm)

Habitat: Antarctica; circumpolar distribution and are found on islands in the Antarctic region. The main colonies are found on the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Kerguelen Islands and smaller colonies are found on Macquarie Island, Heard Islands, South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula.

Status: Near Threatened. Global Population: 520,000 mature individuals. This species is suspected to be undergoing an overall moderately rapid population decline, owing to rapid declines in some populations. Threats include disturbance by humans, local pollution, and potential interactions with fisheries and global warming.

Diet: Mainly feed upon krill; fish only make up approximately 15% of their diet.

Nesting: Nest in early June. Their nests consist of a pile of stones that are roughly 20 cms high and 25 cms in diameter. The female will lay 2 eggs and the incubation is shared by both parents, alternating daily.

After 34 - 36 days the eggs will hatch and the chicks will remain in the nest for 30 days before they form crèches. Chicks are colored grey on their back with white coloration on their front. After 80 - 100 days the chicks will molt into sub-adult plumage and venture out into the sea.

It is unusual for both chicks to survive, the one that hatches first is usually stronger. However, if food is in abundance sometimes they will both survive. If Gentoo Penguins lose their first clutch of eggs they are able to lay a second clutch in the same season.

Cool Facts: Gentoo Penguins are the third largest species of penguin, after the emperor penguin and the king penguin.

Gentoo Penguins are the fastest underwater swimming bird and they can reach speeds up to 36 Km/hr (22.4 mph).

Predators of Gentoo Penguins include sea lions, leopard seals and killer whales. On land birds are known to prey upon chicks and steal eggs.


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