Behaviors of Emperor Penguins
In order to find food, these penguins need to dive 150 to 250
metres into the Southern Ocean. The penguins can venture down
deeper, the deepest diving on record being 565 metres. The
longest they can hold their breath when underwater is 20 minutes.
Their swimming speed is 6 to 9 km per hour.
In response to the cold, emperor penguins will stand in a compact
huddle, whether in a group of ten or many hundreds of birds,
each one leaning forward on a neighbor. Those on the outside
tend to face inward and push slowly forward. This produces a
slow churning action, giving each bird a turn on the inside.
Physical Characteristics of the Emperor Penguin
Adults average about 1.1 metres (4 ft) and weigh 30 kilograms
(75 lb) or more.
Like the King Penguin counterpart, a male Emperor
Penguin has an abdominal fold, the "brood pouch",
between its legs and lower abdomen.
The head and wings are black, the abdomen white, black bluish
grey, bill purplish pink. On the sides of the neck, there are
two golden circular stripes.
Baby Emperor penguins are covered with a thick layer of light
gray down, not shiny like the plumage of the adults but opaque
and wooly. This covering ensures that they absorb as much heat
as possible, vital at this early stage when they are not capable
of maintaining their body temperature.
A distinguishing character between male and female is their
Reproduction and Breeding
Emperor penguins travel about 90 km inland to reach the breeding
site. March or April, the penguins start courtship, when the
temperature can be as low as -40 degrees. In May or June, the
female penguin lays one 450-gram egg, but at this point her
nutritional reserves are exhausted and she must immediately
return to the sea to feed. Very carefully, she transfers the
egg to the male penguin, who will incubate the egg in its brood
pouch for about 65 days consecutively without food by surviving
on his fat reserves and spending the majority of the time sleeping
to conserve energy. To survive the cold and wind (up to 200
km per hour), the males huddle together, taking turns in the
middle of the huddle. If the chick hatches before the mother's
return, the father will sit the chick on his feet and cover
with it with his pouch, feeding it a white milky substance
produced by a gland in his esophagus. After about two months,
the female returns. She finds her mate among the hundreds of
fathers via his call and takes over caring the chick, feeding
it by regurgitating the food she has stored in her stomach.
The male then leaves to take his turn at sea. After another
few weeks, the male returns and both parents tend to the chick
by keeping it off the ice and feeding it food from their stomachs.
About two months after hatching, the chicks huddle in a crèche
for warmth and protection, still fed by their parents.
Scientific classification of the Emperor