SeaLab: Antarctica: The Mission
Image: Penguins
Gentoo penguins

>> SPECIES DIVERSITY: Of the 17 species of penguins, 7 live in the Antarctic region. Only two species—the emperor and the Adélie—are year-round residents of Antarctica or nearby islands.

>> WATERPROOFING: A dense, waterproof coating of overlapping feathers traps a warm layer of air next to the penguin’s skin. A thick layer of fat under the skin helps keep the bird toasty warm also.

>> LACK OF FLIGHT: Sure they’re birds, but they can’t fly, although they probably once could. Today they are graceful only in the ocean, where they “fly” powerfully through the water.

>> KRILL DEPENDENCE: The smaller penguins—Adélies, gentoos, chinstraps, macaronis, and rockhoppers—feed on krill and other small sea creatures. Larger penguins feed mainly on fish.


Photograph by Paul Dudley Hart
© 2001 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.