Penguin Science | Did You Know?

Did You Know ?

We began our study in 1996, supported by the National Science Foundation, to answer questions in regard to pack-ice species of penguins: 1) Why are their populations in the Ross Sea region growing, while those of the Antarctic Peninsula and other northern areas declining? 2) Why have small colonies been changing in size faster than large ones (which supposedly are large because conditions are — or were — the most favorable)? and 3) Why, in fact, do penguin colonies differ in size at all??? For details of our study go to “Research”. You can also read the scientific papers we have published to answer these questions.

To answer the questions listed above required us to investigate some of the basic biology of penguins, as well as specific penguin behavior and ecology related to the questions, and also to relate our findings to those of other researchers who are studying changes to the penguins’ climate and oceans. A summary of answers to the above questions, at least as related to climate, can be found in the section called
“Climate Change & Penguins”. In this section, we discuss how we have integrated the findings of many researchers studying subjects other than penguin biology in order to describe the way in which penguins are responding to climate and ocean change.
















How do we know what we know? Click on the icon next to the statement to find out. You may also download our findings in PDF format by clicking adjacent icons.           

1. Adelie Penguins capture about 200 g of food on a foraging trip for themselves but, they capture more if they are feeding chicks. They bring back as much as 1000 g in their stomachs when tending to an older chick.
2. It takes 23-36 kg of food to raise an Adelie Penguin chick to fledging weight.
3. Adelie Penguins can dive 150 m deep.
4. Adelie Penguins can hold their breath 6 min.
5. Adelie Penguins eat the most readily available and high-energy food they can find. Most of the year this is fish; where fish are not available or require extra effort to find, they eat krill and squid.
3. Changes to Earth’s climate are changing the amount of sea ice in the Antarctic, which is causing Adélie Penguin populations to change.
7. Chicks weigh 86 g when they hatch and gain 100 g a day until they are about 50 days old when they are ready to take care of itself.
8. Adelie Penguins can walk 2 km/hr over the sea ice.
9. Wind patterns are changing on the Earth’s surface as some areas are getting much warmer and others much cooler.  
10. On foraging trips Adelie Penguins can go up to 250 km away and be gone for 6 days but such long trips normally will result in the death of their chicks if done more than once. Typically, trips are 1-2 days long or less, and only reach about 50 km from the colony.
11. Adelie Penguins go to where there is pack ice and daylight in the winter time, and do not stay with their mates.
13. Changes to Earth’s climate are changing the amount of sea ice in the Antarctic, which is causing Adélie Penguin populations to change.  
14. Adelie Penguins live to be about 15-20_years.
15. Most Adelie Penguins return to their natal nesting area to raise their own families, but some move away.
16. Some Adelie Penguins colonies are increasing in size that can not be due to just the number of chicks born each year.
17. There are 12,000/500,000/120,000/140,000 Adelie Penguins in the Cape Royds/Crozier/Bird/Beaufort colonies.  
18.There are 5 million breeding Adelie Penguins in the world, and probably an additional 2.5 million non-breeders.
19. Adelie Penguins have 100 feather/cm2, which is more than other birds.
20. The average nest has 200 rocks.
21. 80% of chicks that fledge in any year will not reach the age of 2 years.
22. Adelie Penguins mate for life or at least try to find the same mate every year.
 23. Adélie Penguins have lived in the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula only for the last several hundred years.
24. Adélie Penguins lived at Beaufort Island both before and after the Last Ice Age (34 000 to 12 000 years ago).

25. There were more Adélie Penguin colonies in the Ross Sea region 3000 to 4000 years ago than there are now.
26. The diet of Adelie Penguins changes when whales are present because the whales eat the same thing but eat much more than do the penguins.
27. A male Adelie Penguin weighs about 6 kg when it begins the summer, but just 4.5 kg by the time it fledges its chicks; similarly, a female’s body weight decreases from about 5 to 4 kg during this time.
28. Adelie Penguins can be gone for 6 days to catch food for their chicks, though normally they are gone no more than 3 days and sometimes just a few hours.
29. Adelie Penguins are changing their migration as a result of climate change.