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The Penguins Of Antarctica

penguins argentina antarctica

Awkward and endearing, the squawking, waddling penguin is popular all over the world. However, few people know much about these cute flightless bird other than that they are given to dancing and taking on celebrity voices in CGI films. When most people think of penguins they picture the tall, black and white Emperor penguin, even though there are actually seventeen species world-wide. Seven of these make their homes on the continent of Antarctica and around the chilly coasts of South America, mainly in Argentina and Chile.

In addition to the easily recognizable Emperor, the other penguin species that live in Antarctica include the King, Adélie, Chinstrap, Gentoo, Rockhopper and Macaroni penguins. Common features shared by these birds are thick layers of fat and feathers to keep them insulated in achingly frigid temperatures, squat, seemingly legless feet, and long flipper-like wings that propel them gracefully through the water. The King penguin looks like a slightly smaller version of its four-foot tallcousin, the Emperor; it is black and white with yellow feathering around its chest. The Gentoo penguin, the next largest behind the King, is distinguishable because of the white bonnet-like marking on its head. The slightly smaller Chinstrap penguin is identifiable because of – you guessed it – the black strap-like marking around its head. Smaller still, the Adélie penguin stands out because of the wide white ring around its eye.

The two smallest species of penguins also have the lowest populations.

The Macaroni penguin, with a bright red bill and yellow feathers on

its head, is known for forming the largest colonies of any penguin,

even though their overall population has decreased significantly since

the 1970s. The similar-looking Rockhopper penguin, referred to by some as the “punk-rock” penguin because of its spiky yellow crest, is

classified as an endangered species. Many colonies can be found on the Las Islas Malvinas and around Tierra del Fuego. In April 2010 Argentina preserved about 650 square miles of coast as a “Penguin Island Marine Park,” both as an effort to protect breeding colonies and to attract tourists. Anyone visiting Argentina who has had a chance to witness the odd mannerisms and carefree nature of these creatures first-hand will understand just how important such an effort at conservation is.

Did you like this article? Then you'll like these: South Pole Work, Antarctic Journal 1, Global Warming and Antarctica's Future and The Antarctica Treaty.

12 Nov 2010

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