For Antarctica, what polar bears mean for the Arctic is what emperor penguins mean for Antarctica. Have a look at these amazing Facts About Emperor Penguins below!
These aquatic birds, which are flightless, are most likely the most iconic animals in the southern polar region. They are also among the most popular attractions for wildlife tourists.
They are also the longest, deepest diving, and most hardy penguin species. We’re not even close to naming the fascinating emperor penguins as popular as they are.
Facts About Emperor Penguins
These 44 facts will help you to understand the iconic polar bird. They are all well-categorized and broken down into simple bullet points.
Height, weight, appearance, and lifespan.
- Male and female emperor penguins reach a height of around 122 cm (4 feet 4 inches) and can weigh between 20 and 45 kg (44 to 100 pounds).
- Their tuxedos have a purpose. Their white bellies protect them from the sun above, and their dark backs shield them from the depths below.
- In the wild, emperor penguins can live for about 20 years.
- The emperor penguin genus name, Aptenodytes, means “without-wings-diver.”
- Birds like the south polar skua and the southern giant penguins prey on the chicks of Emperor penguins, while leopard seals and orcas hunt the adults.
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Facts about male and female breeding
- Emperor penguins are the only penguins that can breed in Antarctic winter.
- They start courtship in the Southern Hemisphere autumn (around March) when sea ice has reformed and becomes thick enough for colonies.
- Emperor penguin males dance, push their bills towards their chests and sing for their mate. These calls last about two seconds.
- After breeding, the female emperor penguins will lay one egg and then turn the care over to the males while going to the sea for food.
- Emperor penguins do not build nests and breed only on sea ice.
- The eggs are placed on the feet of males, who then huddle together. They are covered with a skin fold to keep them warm.
- The male emperor penguins protect eggs for approximately four months. They don’t eat anything during that time and instead rely on the accumulated body fat in the summer.
- After months of fasting, the males can eat when the female emperors have returned and found their mates by using their unique calls.
- The serial monogamous Emperor penguins stay with one mate for the whole season, choosing a new mate every season.
Eggs and chicks of Emperor penguins
- The time it takes for the eggs of the emperor penguin to hatch is between 65 and 75 days.
- The eggs are kept at 38°C (100°F) even when the temperature drops below -35°C (95°F). Males’ skin still folds.
- Small chicks are born at birth, weighing between 150 and 200 grams (5.3 to 7.8 ounces), while adults average around 22-30 kg (48 to 66 pounds).
- The down layer is thin, but the Emperor penguin chicks cannot regulate their temperature for the first 50 days. Their parents must keep them warm.
- Emperor chicks can also form warm huddles from their warmth if left alone at night.
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Heat-saving and energy conservation facts
- Emperor penguins save energy by using small flippers and bills. Their nasal chambers allow them to retain heat normally lost in exhalation.
- They can store a lot of energy-giving fat and stay inactive during winter to conserve energy.
- Emperor penguins can recycle their body heat because of their close vein structure. Pre-cooled blood is delivered to their feet, wings, and bill. The blood then warms up and returns to their hearts.
- They can also decrease their metabolic rate and blood flow to non-essential parts and increase their effectiveness in combating disease.
- The insulation of Emperor penguins is amazing. They have many layers of feathers with a scale-like appearance that pack so tight that they can only be ruffled by strong winds (over 60 knots).
- Researchers believe that their feathers are colder than the air around them, which helps conserve heat.
- Only their eyes, feet, and beaks are warmer than the Antarctic air. Their eyes are just below freezing.
Sociability and huddling between emperor penguins
- The only non-territorial penguin species is the Emperor penguin.
- Huddling is an effective strategy to warm the body because of its social nature.
- Huddling is a way for emperor penguins to cope with cold temperatures and katabatic winds. On particularly cold days, up to 10 males can huddle together.
- Huddled Emperor penguins can reduce heat loss by up to 50%. Temperatures inside the huddle can reach as high as 24degC (75degF).
- They alternate between the warmer and colder areas of the huddle in a continuous cycle.
Emperor penguin diet and diving facts
- The Southern Ocean’s top food chain includes Emperor penguins.
- They hunt in open water and use cracks or other access points in sea ice.
- Antarctic silverfish is a favorite food of emperor penguins, but Antarctic krill or some squid species also make an appearance.
- The majority of emperor penguin prey is small and cold, which allows them to quickly bring food to body temperature for digestion.
- Adult emperor penguins consume between two and three kilograms (4.4 to 6.6 pounds) of food daily, but it rises to six kilograms (13.2 pounds) when they go on a molt or start their breeding season.
- The typical depth of Emperor penguins’ foraging is 150-250 meters (490-820 feet), but they have been found at 565 meters (1,853ft), which is deeper than any other aquatic bird.
- Average emperor dives take between three and six minutes. One dive takes 22 minutes.
- Because of their solid bones, Emperor penguins can dive deep due to their superior ability to handle the hollow bones found in flying birds.
Population and distribution of Emperor penguin colonies
- The British Antarctic Survey discovered that the global population of emperor penguins is twice as high as previously thought. It was 595,000, compared to 270,000-350,000.
- A 1992 study found that Antarctica had only 135,000 to 175,000 emperors. However, scientists believe this discrepancy is due to technological advances in animal counting.
- Multiple counts have shown that Antarctica is home to between 44 and 46 breeding colonies of emperor penguins.
- They are considered a threatened species and have been given a ” near threatened conservation status.”
- Emperor penguins are only one of two species of penguins that live in Antarctica. The other is Adelie penguins.