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Fascinating Facts: Adelie Penguins

The mass starvation of Adelie penguin chicks at an Antarctic breeding colony made headlines recently. All but two chicks starved in the colony of 18,000 breeding pairs. The deaths were linked to environmental changes that caused extensive sea ice and an inability for adult penguins to reach food sources.

Scientists around the world are pushing for a 1 million square kilometre marine park in the region to support the Adelie populations by preventing fishing of krill, the Adelie’s primary food source.

To show your support, why not learn a little more about the cutest, cheekiest penguins on earth!

  1. Adelie penguins were named after Adelie Land in Southern Antartica, where they were first discovered in 1840.

2. Adelie penguins have a white circle around their eyes and are extremely loud and noisy birds.

3. These penguins are exceptionally determined and successful birds that can swim up to 300km (return), as well as walk, enormous distances across the ice in search of food. They are also known to go ‘tobogganing’ on their bellies, pushing themselves along using their feet.

4. They are one of five species of penguins that live in the Antarctic.

5. Preferred breeding sites are exposed rock, and Adelie colonies can be found around the entire Antarctic coastline as well as on smaller islands.

6. Adelie Penguins spend the winters at sea, amidst the ice pack in search of food. When they return, they regurgitate food for their young.

7. Penguins always return to the same nest and mate.

8. Nests are built out of pebbles and are slightly higher than the ground, to avoid flooding in case of melting ice.

9. Adelies on average produce two eggs. Both parents take turns to incubate their eggs while the other feeds at sea. Incubation shifts can last between 11- 14 days

10. Penguins feed on Antarctic krill, crustaceans and fish. They are preyed upon by Leopard seals and Skuas (seabirds).