Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) is easily recognised 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 75 to 90 cm. They are the fastest underwater swimming penguins, reaching speeds of 36 km/h.
Two sub-species of this penguin are recognised: Pygoscelis papua papua and the smaller Pygoscelis papua ellsworthii.
Males have their maximum weight of about 8 kg just before moulting and their minimum weight of about 5.5 kg just before mating. For females the maximum weight is 7.5 kg just before moulting but their weight drops to below 5 kg when guarding the chicks in the nest.
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.
Nests are usually made from a roughly circular pile of stones and can be quite large, 20 cm high and 25 cm in diameter. Two eggs are laid, both weighing around 130 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 moult into sub-adult plumage and go out to sea at about 80 to 100 days.
Gentoo penguins 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).
The Gentoo are the most timid species of penguin.
- Gentoo penguins from the International Penguin Conservation Web Site
- Biodiversity at Ardley IslandSmall place near King George Island, special protected area and colony of Gentoo Penguins.
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