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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Emperor Penguin Aptenodytes forsteri

The emperor penguin is the world’s largest penguin and the only species that breeds in Antarctica during the southern winter. In shape and markings, it is very similar to the king penguin, but it can be over twice its weight.

Rarely found outside Antarctic waters, the emperor penguin feeds among broken sea ice, diving to depths of up to 1,750 ft (530 m). It can remain underwater for as long as 20 minutes, and may travel up to 600 miles (1,000 km) in search of food. The emperor penguin breeds in scattered colonies on the ice itself.

Adult female emperor penguins lay a single egg in early winter, and then transfer it to the male. During the winter darkness, while the females feed at sea, the male emperor penguins huddle together with their eggs balanced on their feet and protected within a fold of feathery skin. The incubation period lasts about two months. By the end of it, the males have lost about half their body weight. The females return when the chicks hatch, releasing the males, who head out to sea.

Emperor Penguinzoom image
  • Order Sphenisciformes
  • Height 43–45 in (110–115 cm)
  • Weight 77–88 lb (35–40 kg)
  • Habitat Sea ice, rocky coasts, open ocean
  • Distribution Southern Ocean, Antarctica
Emperor Penguin habitat mapzoom image