Thursday, 25 November 2010

Chinstrap penguin

Pygoscelis antarctica

(Photo from Antarctic Field Guide)

Common name:

Order Sphenisciformes
Family Spheniscidae

The chinstrap penguin breeds mostly on islands of the southern seas, namely in South Orkney, South Shetland, South Georgia and South Sandwich, and on the Antarctic Peninsula as far south as Anvers. They winter in the seas around the pack ice of Antarctica.

These penguins are 68-76 cm long. Their weight has large variations throughout the yearly cycle, ranging from 3-6 kg.

They live both on barren islands and large icebergs of the sub-Antarctic and Antactic regions. However, they require solid, snow-free ground to nest on. They mostly forage near the pack ice and are only occasionally found foraging further out to sea.

The chinstrap penguin mostly feeds on krill. They also eat other small crustaceans, small fish and squids. When hunting they can dive up to 60 m for about 60 seconds.

They use stones to build circular nests on the ground. In November-December the females lay 2 eggs. The eggs are incubated by both the male and the female for shifts of 6 days. The chicks hatch after 37 days and stay in the nest for another 20-30 days before joining a creche. At around 50-60 days old they are able to go out to sea.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
With a very large breeding range and a population estimated at 8 million, the chinstrap penguin is not threatened at present. Despite this, commercial krill fishing and tourist activities are regulated near their breeding colonies to minimize impacts on the species.

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