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Friday Fun Facts About Penguins

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 02: Penguins during ZSL London Zoo’s annual stocktake of animals on January 2, 2014 in London, England. The zoo’s annual stocktake requires keepers to check on the numbers of every one of the 800 different animals species held, including every invertebrate, bird, fish, mammal, reptile, and amphibian. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

According to recent news reports we seem to have a Global Warming Research vessel stuck in the ice near Antarctica in the middle of summer. I wondered if any of our southern feathered friends, a.k.a. penguins, might show up to meet these wayward travelers.

In case you are not familiar with penguins, other than maybe seeing them at Sea World, I thought I’d give you some fun facts about these amazing creatures.

Fun Facts About Penguins

  • Penguins are carnivores (meat eaters) with a diet consisting of mostly fish or squid although they also enjoy a varied diet of crab or shrimp as well.
  • Larger penguins can gobble up as many as 30 fish or more in a single dive and can stay down for as long as 15 minutes before having to surface for air.
  • Penguins love other penguins. They feed and swim in groups, and colonies can grow to numbers in excess of 20 million, and they all get along.
  • Penguins are quicker in the water swimming at 5-6 miles per hour versus their rather moderate on land speed of 1-2 miles per hour.
  • The closer to the South Pole, the bigger the penguin. Small penguins prefer a more temperate or tropical locale. Emperor Penguins live and breed in the coldest climates. They thrive in temperatures that can reach -40° F and wind chills that can push temperatures much lower. They are also the only birds that breed during the winter months.
  • In the wild penguins commonly live 15-20 years and spend about 75 percent of that time swimming and feeding.
  • Penguins also leave the water in groups for the protection in numbers when possible predators are nearby.
  • The penguins coloring helps protect it from predators. The black half blends with the dark colored surface of the ocean when viewed from above and the white under belly blends with the sky and snow when viewed from below.
  • Although some species of penguins have been hunted almost to extinction they do not exhibit any fear of humans.
  • Penguins can be found in many South American countries including South Africa, New Zealand, Chili, Antarctica, Argentina and Australia.
  • Can penguins drink salt water? Yes they can thanks to a supraorbital gland that acts as a filter and removes the salt from their bloodstream.
  • Penguin chicks are not born with feathers. Instead they have fluffy down coats. So they are totally dependent on their parents until their adult feathers grow in. They also can’t go in the water without the protective oil they produce that makes their adult feathers waterproof.

Some Final Thoughts

Some animals are cute while others are ugly. Penguins definitely fall into the cute category. I doubt there are many who fail to comment on their cuteness quotient. Some species live in places that are very inhospitable to mankind.

So to those stranded crew and passengers on the Global Warming ship there are some eyes on land or ice wondering, “What the heck were you thinking?”

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