Discover the Different Types of Penguins in Antarctica

types of penguins in Antarctica
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Discover All the Different Types of Penguins in Antarctica

The 6 Species of the Great Waddlers of the South

These cute and lovable flightless birds in tuxedos can be seen in both cold and even colder areas of Antarctica. They may not be able to fly (or walkers for a matter of fact), but they are great swimmers. Let me guess. For you, the average penguin would have a black body with a white belly. However, each penguin species can be categorized based on the color of their necks, color of their eyebrows, and body weight. You might see a 115-centimeter-long Emperor Penguin or a slim and short Adelie Penguin. There are quite a few different types of penguins in Antarctica and so without further ado, let’s discover them!

Read through this article to find out all about their different habitat preferences, their diet, their every day activities, and their different species! I bet you didn’t think there are 6 distinct species that reside in the harsh conditions of the Antarctic! That’s okay, you can continue reading my short research to learn more about these waddling mammals.

The Mammals of the Land and Sea

penguins in Antarctica
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Before we jump right into the list of penguin species, let first see if you know what a penguin is in general! Just kidding! There is no quiz. I’m here to help you, silly.

Penguins don’t have wings, but they do have flippers instead. These help them dive under water. Their non-existent legs make it difficult for them to keep their body upright when they walk, hence, they tend to waddle. You might see penguins in a puffed-up chest stance or a slouching stance because their feet are positions further back compared to regular birds. Now, they may not be able to get from place to place through air, but they do walk, swim and slide on their bellies for hundreds of meters on land and underwater.

You may be wondering where do they actually sleep, eat and just hangout. Well, just like human communities and societies, they live in massive colonies that can reach up to a million in one area! I guess there aren’t any unsociable or rouge penguins in Antarctica. If you do see one, that might probably mean he’s lost or he’s on his way home after fishing from the sea.

Speaking of fishing, these heavily cloaked mammals hunt and eat cuttlefish, squid, crustaceans and krill. Just like us, the food that are large (i.e. fish, squid and crustaceans) are for the adult penguins, while their young feed on food they can chew (i.e. krill).

As for the reason they live in the Antarctic, and not some tropical beach like the Bahamas, is because of the layers of feathers plus fat that all serve as an armor against the all-year-round cold weather. Their outer feathers are thick and patterned like the tiles of the roof while the feathers on the surface of their skin are soft and fluffy. The outer layer serves as the waterproof shield and the inner layer serves as the insulator. Yet, another layer of insulation, which is fat, is under their skin. Unless penguins evolve to have none of these protective layers, I don’t think they’d want to migrate to the Bahamas any time soon.

The Antarctic Ocean

The Antarctic Ocean
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Basically, the Antarctic Ocean, or the Southern Ocean, is the only ocean that fully covers the perimeter of a continent. Another fact you must have not known is the Antarctic Ocean consists of 13 seas, namely the Weddell Sea,  the Lazarev Sea, the Riiser-Larsen Sea, the Amundsen Sea, the Cosmonauts Sea, the Cooperation Sea, the Davis Sea, the Bransfield Strait, a part of the Drake Passage, the D’Urville Sea, the Somov Sea, a part of the Scotia Sea, and the Ross Sea. Another fun fact I thought you’d want to know and share is that this ocean is no regular mass of water because it can actually influence the climate of the world by distributing heat which creates rainfall patterns and temperatures. This heat comes from the energy made when travelling to the east at 0.5 meters per second.

Now what has this got to do with penguins? Well, the ocean is swarming with krill and other huntable sea creature of course! In fact, “Between 2006-2007 for example, 126,976 metric tons of these species [krill] were captured” (2016).  So, what have you learned from this section? That the Antarctic Ocean is queen! Yass!

The Types of Antarctic Penguins

The Emperor Penguin

The Emperor Penguin
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If you goggle “emperor”, you’ll see this powerful-looking sovereign sitting on a throne, buffed up with gold clothing. Similarly, Emperor Penguins have every right to be labelled as emperors due to their sheer mass of height and weight. Emperor penguins, just like king penguins, have yellow necks. It might even be a symbol of royalty. But to see these heavy creatures and ice-hugging creatures, you need to make put on an extra jacket or two as they live in the coldest parts of the Antarctic; and they prefer it that way even if they’re warm-blooded! If you see a penguin, make sure to look closely because there only may be hundreds of thousands of emperor penguins across the Antarctic compared to the millions of smaller penguins. So, remember to keep an eye out when you’re bird-watching. And by bird, I mean penguins of course!

The King Penguin

The King Penguin
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Take note that in the case of the penguins, kings are shadowed by the emperors. King Penguins are two-thirds of the size of the emperor penguins. However, because they don’t carry as much fat as the emperor, they can handle warmer areas. Most of them reside in South Georgia! But there are some daring king penguins that stay at Antarctica to show those emperor penguins that they ain’t scared of no below zero-degree weather.

Just a quick reminder, if you see any short, brown and furry penguins next to king penguins, don’t be confused as those are their chicks! This species truly lives to its name as they lay their eggs anywhere, no need for nests or sea-ice. Talk about dominance!

The Chinstrap Penguin

The Chinstrap Penguin
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It can’t get any more specific that this name. Chinstrap Penguins have, well, what appears to be a helmet strap on their chin. Putting the obvious aside, they are 70 centimeters long and weigh 11 pounds. Unfortunately, other than their noticeable chinstrap, they follow the normal cycle of a penguin: eat, breed, swim, waddle and slide.

The Macaroni Penguin

The Macaroni Penguin
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Not unlike the previously mentioned types of penguins in Antarctica,, the macaroni penguin doesn’t have a macaroni tattooed on it’s skin. So where does the “macaroni” come from? Great question! Their name derives from the macaroni hat fad of the 19th century in Britain. To describe what macaroni penguins look like to all you millennials reading this, imagine a stereotypical surfer dude’s vibrant blonde hair brushed up. The eyebrows of the Macaroni Penguin looks like that guy’s hair. Now you’ll never confuse these types of penguins from Antarctica with any of the other penguin species.

The Gentoo Penguin

the gentoo penguin
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This penguin looks like whoever painted them black missed a spot on the top of their eye. The Gentoo Penguin is a little under 80 centimeters tall. They may be short, but they are productive because the hobby they all enjoy yet take seriously is collecting rocks to create their circular nest. The are even observed to be aggressive and cunning as this innocent hobby is no joke to the gentoo penguins. You can practically hear them say, “It’s collect or steal, my friend.”

The Adelie Penguin

the Adelie Penguin
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And lastly, the shortest among all the different types of penguins in Antarctica, are the Adelie Penguins. An easy way to identify them is that they always look like they’re in a perpetual state of shock, as they have white ringed eyes and a black head. They may be little and light, but in numbers, they dominate the others with their population of 6 million!

Main Takeaways

the types of penguins in Antarctica
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A quick review before you go on off to the brutally cold weathers of Antarctica to see these penguins in their natural habitat (or before you take that test on Antarctic penguins):

The Main Characteristics of Penguins:

  • Penguins have flippers instead of wings.
  • Penguins waddle and slide on the ice to get from place to place. 
  • Penguins live and move in colonies which are called a rookery or a waddle.
  • Penguins hunt and eat cuttlefish, squid, crustaceans and krill.
  • Penguins have thick waterproof outer feathers a and fluffy feathers on the surface of their skin and the fat under their skin keep them warm.

The 6 Types of Penguins in Antarctica:

  • Emperor Penguin
  • King Penguin
  • Chinstrap Penguin
  • Macaroni Penguin
  • Gentoo Penguin
  • Adelie Penguin

The Main Characteristics of the Antarctic Ocean:

  • The only ocean that fully encompasses a continent.
  • Consists of 13 seas.
  • Controls the world’s climate.
  • Infested with plenty of krill for penguins to feed on.

And there you go! A short reference for all those who want to visit the cute yet diverse set of penguins of Antarctica. Or maybe even for all you students answering your homework. Either way, you know a little more about our waddling friends with built-in tuxedos who reside in the south. Also, if you ever wondered, “when is the best time to visit Antarctica“? We’ve got you covered! Click here.

Reference (Only includes the references of direct quotes) (2016). Antarctic Ocean. Retrieved from

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