Picture that you are on a photography hunt in Antarctica. You have been taking pictures of many animals that are found in the Antarctic, like seals and bottle-nosed whales. Then you see what looks like large black spots on the white snow. You decide to take a picture of this mysterious object. A few minutes later, you hear a splashing noise. You look over to the water, and you see thousands of black and white creatures coming out of the water being chased by a killer whale. You look closer and you see thousands of … penguins.
The Differences Between Species of Penguin
A penguin is a bird, but it cannot fly. The penguins’ wings are used to swim in the water not to fly in the air. Every penguin is black and white, but penguins also are very different. For example, the rockhopper has a crest of yellow feathers that are on the top of their eyes. Unlike the rockhoppper, the gentoo penguin has a white splotch on their heads. Also the chinstrap penguin has white feathers from their beaks to the back of their heads on the sides.
The smallest penguin is the fairy or little blue penguin at 11 inches tall. The largest penguin is the emperor penguin at 35 inches tall. Penguins live in Antarctica, New Zealand, Australia, South America, South Africa, and the Galapagos Islands. They also live in the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and the Indian Ocean. All penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere.
Penguins usually go hunting a few weeks at a time. Penguins dive under the water to get their food. They usually dive from 50 to 60 feet to catch their prey or food. The emperor penguin can dive up to 875 feet to catch it’s dinner.
What’s it Like to be Dinner?Interviewer: So, Mr. Penguin, what is your goal in life?
Mr. Penguin: My goal is to die at an old age.
Interviewer: Why is that your goal?
Mr. Penguin: That is my goal because a lot of penguins get eaten by a lot of animals.
Interviewer: What kinds of animals eat you?
Mr. Penguin: The animals that eat us are sharks, killer whales, and leopard seals in the sea. The animals that eat us are foxes and pampas cats on land.
Interviewer: How do you protect yourself?
Mr. Penguin: We live on islands where the predators cannot get us.
Interviewer: When was the ancestor of the first penguin alive?
Mr. Penguin: The first penguins lived about 40 million years ago, and some penguins were 6 feet tall.
Baby penguins are born without feathers. Some babies will not make it out of the egg because some of the eggs are stolen. The babies who do make it out of the egg, might not make it to adulthood because some of them get ripped apart. For the first few weeks of their lives they stay close to one parent while the other parent goes out hunting. When the babies are about 4 weeks old, they huddle together in groups to stay warm. When the penguins are 3 to 10 months old, they begin to lose their gray baby feathers and then begin to get their adult feathers. The parents keep the babies warm, feed them, and teach them to survive. The female penguin usually lays 1 to 2 eggs a year.
Penguins are in danger today. In the places that the penguins live there are oil spills. The oil coats their feathers. This makes them unable to hunt and get their food. The oil also hurts their food supply.
The fishing companies fish too much, which causes the food to decrease for the penguins. Also the penguins get stuck in the nets the fishermen use and die. There are laws now that protect the penguins from these things. The places where penguins are protected are named penguin sanctuaries. A penguin sanctuary is a place where penguins can go to be safe. People started to protect these wonderful creatures so that future generations can see them and not just look in a book.
We can help the penguins by studying them. We can also visit them at the zoo. Penguins are important to the balance in all of nature. We need to learn all we can to protect these magnificent creatures for future generations.
Arnold, Caroline. Penguin. New York: Morrow Juniorbooks, 1988.
Gibbons, Gail. Penguins! New York: Holiday House, 1998.
Stone, Lynn. M. The Penguins. Mankato: Crestwood House, 1987.
Stone, Lynn. M. Penguins. Vero Beach: Rourke Enterprises, 1989.