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Types of penquins you may see on an expedition cruise to Antarctica

Emperor penguin and baby

When going on a trip to Antarctica, one of the many highlights is getting up close and personal with the many penguins. They might smell a little of fish but they are unbelievably cute and surprisingly friendly. There are a total of seventeen species of penguins in the world but only seven can be found in Antarctica. Four species live in Antarctica year-round whilst the other 3 only live there for part of the year.

We have received a significant interest in enquiries for Antarctica recently so we thought let’s find out more about the cutest residents on the cold continent.

Adelie Penguin

You are more likely to see these penguins on some of the many small islands from Spring to Autumn as they spend most of their time in the water during the winter months. Luckily, most of the trips to Antarctica are in this time frame too.

They like their food and will travel far to get a tasty dinner – up to 185-mile round trip! They mainly eat small sea creatures but are known to treat themselves to some squid. Adelie Penguins are also very considerate amongst genders so much so that each parent shares the childcare duties equally. Sounds like they have it all sorted.

Chinstrap Penguin

These penguins have a cheeky yet cute look about them. They get their name from the small strip of black feathers that go from the top of their head, all the way round their face and chin and back to the top – just like a chinstrap!

Chinstrap penguins are not afraid of a bit of drama to say the least. The male penguins find a nest to settle in whilst waiting for a female to mate with, yet she only has five days to show up otherwise he will get bored and look for another female. If the males can’t find a nest that they like, they are known to kick another couple out from their spot and settle there. The male Chinstrap Penguins may also have a wandering eye at times. If he gets caught with another female by the original mate, the two females will fight it out for his affection. Who would believe there would be so much drama in the penguin world?

Chinstrap penguin - Antarctica

Gentoo Penguin

We cannot get enough of the name of this species of penguins – Gentoo Penguin. They are the third largest penguin species but still much smaller than Emperor Penguins. As a result, they really aren’t the quickest when running on land. However, they more than make up for this when they are in the water. When diving, they have been known to reach speeds up to 22 miles per hour. They therefore spend most of the days hunting for krill, fish and squid if they are lucky.

Gentoo penguin - Antarctica

King Penguin

King Penguins look extremely similar to the Emperor Penguin with both having the brightly coloured yellow and orange plumage that makes their black and white colour stand out even more. The easiest way to distinguish the two species is that the black feathers on the King Penguin are the lightest shade in all of the penguin species. In fact it looks much more like a dark grey.

King Penguins only spend part of their time in Antarctica as they like to escape during the really cold winter months. They also tend to reside more in the northern part of Antarctica so you are extremely likely to come across some of these cute fellows on your Antarctica trip. They like to breed in large colonies but may leave some of the chicks unattended during the winter months.

king penquins

Macaroni Penguin

These are probably our favourite species of penguin simply because they are the most eccentric. They look eccentric as well as their nature being so too. Macaroni Penguins are small and stout in build and have bright yellow eyebrows called crests. We will be surprised if you do not see any of these cheeky penguins in Antarctica as there are plenty of them. In fact, it is believed by many that they are the most abundant species of penguins. They don’t stay in Antarctica for the whole year but when they do come back, they tend to head to the more southern part of the continent and particularly favour the small islands in the area.

Rockhopper Penguin

The Rockhopper Penguins are one of the more ornate in the penguin world. They also have bright yellow eyebrows that they use to attract a mate. These birds cannot get enough of the ice. They will often be found swimming between sub Antarctic islands. We love their party trick of shaking their heads so quickly that it looks like they have a halo.

The Rockhopper Penguins do not actually make it to Antarctica itself but you will hopefully catch of glimpse of them on the Antarctic islands during your journey to the south pole. The reason for this is that they like the rockier parts of this region and enjoy hopping from stone to stone. It is why they are called Rockhopper Penguins.

Rockhopper penguin

Emperor Penguin

The final species of penguin that you will get the chance to see on your Antarctica holiday is the Emperor Penguin. They are the largest species out of all the penguins where they can reach a height of up to 4 feet. They are known to be the boldest and best dressed penguins.

We love their community spirit. They remain as a team to help them navigate through the Antarctic conditions. They all huddle together to keep warm and take turns in the standing on the edge of the huddle so that they all get a chance of enjoying the warmest part. How nice is that? An interesting fact is that most Emperor Penguins never step foot on land. They breed entirely on sea ice and so for many, there is no need to go onto the land.

Emperor penguins - Antarctica

If you are interested in visiting Antarctica, we have a whole range of holidays with various companies available. Just give us a call on 01582 349480 or send us an email [email protected] for more information.

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