Antarctica, the southernmost continent and site of the South Pole is a place of extremes. It’s the coldest, windiest and driest continent. Aileen Adalid, a travel and Lifestyle blogger, took on an expedition around Antarctica and she listed some of the incredible Antarctic animals that you can see through the surrounding islands and the Peninsula itself!
Naturally, penguins are the first type of animals that people think of when Antarctica comes to mind. So, to date, there are 17 species of penguins in the world but only 7 of them live on and around Antarctica:
- Four (4) live and nest in and around the Antarctic continent: Adélie, Emperor, Chinstrap, and Gentoo
- The first 2 are found way further in the icy continent and the rest prefer to be at the northern tip
- Three (3) breed in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands: King, Macaroni and Rockhopper
Adélie penguins are commonly found along the coast of Antarctica, and you can quickly identify them by their small height (around 18 to 28 inches), the white ring surrounding their eyes, and the feathers at the base of their bill. As one of the Antarctic animals, they mostly feed on sea creatures such as krill, little fishes and the occasional squid.
It’s clear to see they’re called this way, after all, chinstrap penguins have distinctive black feathers that run under their chin which makes them look like they have a teeny tiny helmet, right? As for the chinstrap penguins’ chicks, they are typically born between late February and early March; so if you come sometime before those months, you can possibly see them incubating their eggs (they often lay two eggs).
Emperor penguins are the most southerly of the Antarctic animals and they are also the largest, bulkiest, and heaviest of all penguin species — given that they can stand from 43 to 51 inches and weigh from 22 to 45 kilos. Apart from their height, you can easily identify emperor penguins from their pale yellow breast and bright yellow and orange patches near their ears (this is apart from the typical ‘penguin tuxedo’ look).
Gentoo penguins are the 3rd largest penguin species; yet, they’re still fairly small. With a height that can span from 20 to 35 inches, you can recognize them instantly from the wide white stripe across the top of their head as well as their bright red-orange bill.
King penguins are the 2nd largest of the penguin species. Their look is similar to that of the emperor penguins with slight differences on the cheek or ear patches. One could even say that unlike the emperor penguins who have a jet black color, king penguins rather have dark grey. When it comes to baby chicks though, king penguins don a brown fluffy fur. They shed this for months through a process called molting until they finally achieve the ‘signature look’ of adult king penguins.
Macaroni penguins may be small but they are flashy given their big orange bills and bright and spiky orange eyebrows (which are called ‘crests’). Crests are actually common in all penguin species but they’re in a lighter color and not as predominant as that of the macaroni penguins.
If macaroni penguins are flashy, rockhopper penguins are too — BUT, in a more subdued way since their crests or eyebrow markings are less striking but are still spiky and bright yellow that extend all the way to the crown of their heads. As for their name, this came about because they typically hop around their rocky environment.