Emperor Penguin

Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) are the largest of all penguins and are adapted to the extreme cold of the ice sheets of Antarctica and the surrounding seas. They are characterized by a black head and backside, with a hint of yellow on their breast and behind their ears. Because of their streamlined bodies and strong flippers, emperor penguins are excellent swimmers, and at sea they can dive to a depth of more than 500 meters, deeper than any other bird. As carnivores, emperor penguins prey on fish, squid and krill, while they are hunted by leopard seals and killer whales as well as large seabirds, which scavenge mainly on chicks. They are very social animals that huddle together in large colonies in order to survive the harsh conditions of their icy environment. Emperor penguins breed in winter and while females go hunting in the Antarctic waters for themselves and their unborn chicks, males keep the eggs warm in brood pouches on top of their feet. Male and female emperor penguins stay together during the full breeding season, but some are even rumored to remain faithful to their partners for life. After an egg hatches, the parents of the newly born chick take turns foraging at sea and raising their chick in the colony.

Information source: National Geographic, WWF

Image: Emperor penguin family on ice along the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Source: Christopher Michel, Wikimedia Commons.

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