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Gentoo Penguin, Pygoscelis papua    

Gentoopenguin  Æselpingvin      Manchot Papou Eselspinguin
  Bøylepingvin  Pinguino Papua

Copyright © Vladimir Dinets

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 Penguin.

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.

Courtesy: http://www.coolantarctica.com

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.

Courtesy: http://www.coolantarctica.com

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.

Copyright © www.photovolcanica.com

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.

Courtesy: http://www.coolantarctica.com

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).

A leopard 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 their eggs;
however, some other seabirds have managed to snatch chicks.

Copyright © Vladimir Dinets

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.

Gentoo Penguin, Volunteer Cove, Falkland Islands.
Copyright © Vladimir Dinets


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