Antarctic Birds: other penguins

To finish with the penguins of Antarctica, here are some other subantarctic penguins. First of all, there is a whole series of crested penguins on the New Zealandic Subantarctic Islands. For me a faraway world, as almost all the trips I’ve done started in Argentina, as will be the case for most people embarking on an Antarctic voyage. However, there are trips from New Zealand visiting those islands where you can see those penguins as well.

Erect-crested Penguin on Campbell Island, New Zealand

The next is the Southern Rockhopper Penguin, the last of the crested penguins that one can meet on a trip to Antarctica leaving from Argentina. There are vast colonies of this species in the Falkland Islands and can sometimes be seen porpoising through the water in the Drake Passage close to the Beagle Channel. They are a bit smaller as the Macaroni Penguins, with a smaller bill and have a more hanging crest. But at sea, these differences can be hard to notice.

Southern Rockhopper Penguin colony on Saunders Island, the Falklands


Southern Rockhopper Penguin

The last penguin of the series is often the first, and last penguin one sees on a trip leaving from Ushuaia, Argentina. Just after leaving port, while cruising through the Beagle Channel, there are a few colonies of this species: the Magellanic Penguin. Due to the larger distance, it’s often difficult to distinguish them from the also black and white shags on the shoreline.

Magellanic Penguin on the Falkland Islands

We get a much better view of this species during our visits to the Falkland Islands (usually on our way to South Georgia). Here we often visit a colony of this species. In contrast to the real (sub)Antarctic penguins, they breed in burrows under the ground.

Magellanic Penguins on Carcass Island, the Falklands

People often think of penguins as a true Antarctic species group, but there are several of the 18 species of penguin that are found nowhere near the southern continent. This Magellanic Penguin is one example, but also it close relative the African Penguin (that can be found on the southern shores of the African continent) will also never get near Antarctica. There is even a species found near the equator, the only species that occasionally ventures north of the Equator: the Galapagos Penguin. The only things all these species have in common is that they breed on places without natural land predators (as they can’t fly away from them) and there is a cold water current near. They need the latter to feed, probably as the fish are a bit slower in that water, making it easier for the penguins to catch them.

Magellanic Penguins looking out over the Southern Ocean






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