The Gentoo Penguin, Pygoscelis papua, is easily recognized
by the wide white stripe extending like a bonnet across
the top of its head. Chicks have grey backs with white fronts. Adult
Gentoos reach a height of 51 to 90 cm (20-36 in),
making them the largest penguins outside of the two giant species,
the Emperor Penguin and the King
The application of Gentoo to the penguin is unclear, according
to the OED, which reports that Gentoo was an Anglo-Indian term,
used as early as 1638 to distinguish Hindus in India from Muslims,
the English term originating in Portuguese gentio
(compare "gentile"); in the twentieth century the term
came to be regarded as derogatory.
Two sub-species of this penguin are recognised: Pygoscelis papua
papua and the smaller Pygoscelis papua ellsworthii.
Males have a maximum weight of about 8.5 kg (19 lb) just before
moulting, and a minimum weight of about 4.9 kg (10.8 lb)
just before mating. For females the maximum weight is 8.2 kg (18
lb) just before moulting, but their weight drops to as little
as 4.5 kg (10 lb) when guarding the chicks in the nest.
They are the fastest underwater swimming penguins, reaching speeds
of 36 km/h .
Gentoo are built for very harsh cold climates.
Gentoos breed on many sub-Antarctic islands. The main colonies
are on the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and
Kerguelen Islands; smaller populations are found on Macquarie Island,
Heard Islands, South Shetland Islands and
the Antarctic Peninsula. The total breeding population is estimated
to be over 300,000 pairs.
Nests are usually made from a roughly circular pile of stones
and can be quite large, 20 cm high and 25 cm in diameter.
The stones are jealously guarded and their ownership can be the
subject of noisy disputes between individual penguins.
They are also prized by the females, even to the point that a male
penguin can obtain the favors of a female by offering
her a nice stone.
Two eggs are laid, both weighing around 500 g. The parents share
incubation, changing duty daily.
The eggs hatch after 34 to 36 days. The chicks remain in the nests
for about 30 days before forming creches.
The chicks molt into sub-adult plumage and go out to sea at about
80 to 100 days.
Gentoos live mainly on crustaceans such as krill, with fish making
up only about 15% of the diet.
However, they are opportunistic feeders, and around the Falklands
are known to take roughly equal proportions of fish
(Patagonotothen sp., Thysanopsetta naresi, Micromesistius australis),
crustaceans (Munida gregaria) and
squid (Loligo gahi, Gonatus antarcticus, Moroteuthis ingens).
seal captures a Gentoo penguin near Palmer Station, Antarctica.
Photo: Sean Bonnette, NSF
In the water, sea lions, leopard seals, and orca are all predators
of the Gentoo.
On land there are no predators of full grown Gentoos. Skua can steal
however, some other seabirds have managed to snatch chicks.
Gentoo penguins are very tame, especially the chickens: they accept
you to enter a kindergarten, if you go slowly or down on your
knees. To be close to a dosen warm woolenclothed chickens is surely
an amazing experience.
has got to be one very, very relieved penguin! (5.minutes)
to be clear, I DID NOT TAKE THIS VIDEO, and nor did I add the (annoying)
This video was given to me by the chef at Vernadsky, the Ukrainian
research station about 90 miles
south of where I'm currently living (Palmer Station, Antarctica).
And even then, I don't think he took the video himself, either.
I honestly don't know it's original source.
Palmer Station, Antarctic