Cute, but I bite !

emperor penguin

The only penguins in the Northern Hemisphere are on the galapagos islands and in particular on the island of Isabella.

So, with most penguins being ‘Southern folk’ it makes perfect sense that the largest population would be on the Antarctic peninsula with over 1.5 million birds.

Emperor Penguins typically live for between 15 and 20 years old and eat mostly krill but also small fish and squid.

Penguins do have knees, its just they are hidden under all that insulation but its the feet that are interesting. Ever wondered why they don’t freeze?

Well the answer is in the arteries that allow blood flow to be regulated so that the feet stay just above freezing. Further to this is that the arteries run alongside/around the veins so some of the heat from the blood in the arteries is shared with the vein blood, helping warm it before reaching the upper part of the body which is pretty efficient. This setup also helps get the new blood to a closer/cooler temperature to that of the feet.

Penguins have another little trick in that they keep their plumage cooler than the surrounding environment so they actually gain heat from the air around them. A process called thermal convection.

So what about the eggs? The Emperor Penguin female lays the egg, passes it to Dad and she is off for two months!

Dad sits patiently incubating the egg for winter but his reserves aren’t enough to keep warm for so long so they form colonies having turns to be on the cold edge of the group.

The egg typically hatches after about two months and the process of breaking out of the shell can take up to three days. The chick is totally dependent on Dad at this time. Dad also produces a kind of crop milk which is high fat and protein.

Mom then reappears after her two months out with the girls or more accurately, feeding at sea. She starts feeding the chick while Dad feeling a bit famished by now heads to the open ocean to feed, returning in about three to four weeks. When the chicks reach about seven weeks old they form groups for warmth and protection and when Dad returns both parents care for the chick until it is about five months old.

Around this time the parents decide its time for junior to start fending for him/her self and apparently the parents aren’t very good at good byes, so….

Well, they just don’t come back !

The youngster gets hungry and eventually heads out to sea and starts learning life’s lessons

2 replies on “Cute, but I bite !”

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