Emperor penguins are the largest of seventeen species of penguin. They live in one of harshest environments in the world – Antarctica.
Antarctica is a very cold place, with extreme temperatures, as low as -60c and wind speeds of up to 100 miles an hour.
Adult emperor penguins are 1.2 metres tall and have a distinctive orange blush on their cheek. One of their main features is their sleek, waterproof black back and white breast. They also have a flap of skin for incubating their single egg. Juveniles have a black head, a white face and a fluffy grey body. The adults are the biggest of the world’s seventeen species of penguin and are as tall as a 6-7 year old child.
Emperor penguins can stand extreme temperatures by eating lots of fish to make fat which warms them up. Also, they huddle together to keep themselves and their chicks warm. For camouflage from predators they have a black back and white breast so that when a predator in the water looks at them from above they will just see the black sea and when a predator looks at them from below, they will see the bright sky.
Emperor penguins eat squid, krill and fish. They can dive down in the ocean for 1600 feet and can hold their breath for fifteen minutes while hunting. Amazingly, male emperor penguins can go without food for up to 124 days while they incubate their eggs and rear their chicks. When the females go to hunt in the sea the males look after the egg for two months.
The threats to juvenile emperor penguins are giant petrels and Antarctica skuas. Adults emperor penguins are preyed upon by leopard seals (they are not as friendly as common seals, and they have yellow spots on their body). The killer whale is also a predator to emperors.
There are 600,000 emperor penguins in Antarctica, but global warming is threatening the environment of these fascinating birds.