Description: The Emperor Penguin is the world's largest and tallest
penguin. It is also the heaviest penguin, with some individuals
recorded at nearly 100 pounds. Adults have a black head,
back, tail, and black wings. The underparts are dingy
white. The sides of the neck are marked with a large golden
or yellow stripe. In addition, there is a varying amount
of gold on the upper breast. Like most penguins, the Emperor
Penguin has thick, waterproof feathers that cover the
entire body except for the bill and feet. Emperor Penguins
normally live about 20 years in the wild, though some
individuals have been recorded at 40 years of age.
Diet: Crustaceans, krill, and small fish. Emperor Penguins will
dive to depths of 800 feet in search of food. Most dives
last 3-6 minutes.
Leopard Seals, Orcas. Chicks are vulnerable to predation
from South Polar Skuas.
Range: The Emperor Penguin is found throughout the Antarctic perimeter.
It is the only species of penguin to breed during the Antarctic
winter. Breeding takes place about 60 miles from the coast
in the Antarctic interior, where temperatures regularly
drop to -40 degrees Celsius. The trek from the Antarctic
coastline to the breeding grounds was the inspiration for
"March of the Penguins".
Nesting: Female Emperor Penguins lay a single egg in May or June.
After the egg has been laid, the female must immediately
feed in the ocean. First, the egg is carefully transported
to the male, who incubates the egg under a brood patch that
rests above the feet. Occasionally, the transfer is unsuccessful
and the egg rolls onto the ice and instantaneously freezes.
male will incubate the egg for up to 65 days! During this
time, he will not eat a single meal. On particularly cold
days, hundreds of male penguins may gather together in a
compact huddle to warm themselves in the pounding Antarctic
winds. In about two months, the female returns and locates
her mate and chick by sound. She regurgitates food stored
in her stomach to feed the growing chick. The male then
takes his turn feeding in the ocean and returns after about
a month, at which point both parents tend to the chick by
regurgitating food and keeping it off the ice. Once the
chick is about seven weeks old, it joins other chicks in
a creche (huddle) to keep warm.
Status: Populations of Emperor Penguins are though to be stable.
Estimates indicate about 200,000 breeding pairs.