Emperor Penguins by Mirta

Emperor penguins are the largest of the seventeen penguin species and they live in the coldest and harshest of environment: the Antarctic.

The emperor penguins live in a harsh environment called Antarctica. The Antarctic has one of the most deadly winters on Earth. They have to survive there for their whole lives. Antarctica has 100mph winds and its temperature can plummet to around -60c. It is the coldest, driest and windiest continent on Earth.

Emperor penguins can be as tall as 1.2m in height when they reach adulthood. Juveniles have a fluffy coat of grey feathers while adults have a layer of white feathers on their front and black feathers on their back. On their head and neck they have an orange flash. Adult emperors can weigh 22-45kg.

The emperor penguin has adapted to the cold in many ways including: belly skating, huddling many more. They use belly skating for when they are tired and need to rest their feet so they slide on their stomachs to glide along the ground. They use huddling when they are cold so they huddle together in a ball shape. Emperor penguins can hold their breath for 15 minutes and can swim down to depth of 600m in order to catch their food.

Due to their swimming ability, emperors   are fearsome hunters. Emperors eat krill and squid and other small fishes. However, leopard seals giant petrel Antarctic skua and orcas (killer whales) prey on them.

There are approximately 600,000 emperor penguins currently living in Antarctica and they are not an endangered species at present. However, scientists think that global warming could reduce their numbers in the future.

By Mirta

Emperor penguin pair in courtship ritual with chick (Aptenodytes forsteri). Dawson-Lambton glacier, Weddell Sea, Antarctica (November)

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