American Oceans

Biggest Penguin Ever Recorded

Penguins are famous for their black and white markings and distinctive walks. These flightless birds are found at various locations across the globe.

biggest penguins portrait shot around the southern hemisphere

There are many penguin species, and most of them are located around the Southern Hemisphere. Penguins have many similar characteristics, such as short coats with overlapping feathers that make them waterproof.

They are also excellent swimmers having a well-developed fat layer for insulation in a cold climate.

Like many other people, you may be wondering about the largest penguins in the world. Below are 10 of the largest penguin species by height.

Emperor Penguin

The emperor penguin is the largest in the world. They have an average height of 45 inches and weigh up to 100 pounds.

largest emperor penguin located in Antarctica

Emperor penguins are Antarctica natives. The breed during the harsh winter where male penguins incubate the eggs in their feet for 65 to 75 days until it hatches.

It is common to find Emperor penguins huddling close together for warmth to endure the harsh conditions of Antarctica.

Youngsters are placed at the center of the huddle, where they can find the most warmth and better protection.

emperor penguin huddle for warmth and protection

Like other penguin species, the bodies of Emperor penguins are slim to adjust to life in water. Their stiff flattened wings and aerodynamic bodies help to decrease drag when the penguins are swimming. This is a vital hunting feature. 

Emperor penguins are known for their exceptional diving skills. They can achieve a diving depth of over 1000 feet looking for food.

Unfortunately, Emperor penguins are classified under the near-threatened category of the IUCN red list due to fishing on their food sources and decreased hatching rate.

King Penguin

The King Penguin falls second on the world’s largest penguins list. They are found in Antarctica, parts of South Georgia, and the surrounding islands.

king penguin found in south georgia

King penguins are quite similar in appearance to Emperor Penguins, but they have orange markings on the head and upper chest while those of Emperors’ are pale yellow.

These markings give them a stunning appearance. King penguins can weigh up to 40 pounds, growing to be 33 to 37 inches tall.

They are also able swimmers, diving to depths of over 200 feet in search of squid and small fish, which are their main food sources.

king penguin lay and hatch pear-shaped eggs

King penguins lay unique pear-shaped eggs, which they incubate in a pooch and carry around with their legs.

Gentoo Penguin

The Gentoo Penguin is the world’s third-largest penguin. While its average height is 31 inches, it can grow to a maximum height of 35 inches.

Gentoo Penguins have a white stripe across their black head, making them easily distinguishable from other penguin species. They are found predominantly in South Georgia, Falklands, and Antarctica.

Gentoo penguins are renowned for their ability to reduce their heart rate from about 100 beats per minute to 20 bpm during deep dives.

They may move to the sub-Antarctic islands during the mating season. Here, they use nesting materials such as molted feathers and pebbles to make nests.

Gentoo Penguins hatch their young ones by making nests on piles of stone. They are extremely territorial over their eggs, and fights often break out between males and females during the breeding period.

The young ones of Gentoo penguins are often preyed on by aging seabirds. Adult penguins have no predators on land, but they are threatened by seals and killer whales while in water.

Chinstrap Penguin

Next on the list is the Chinstrap Penguin. They are widespread across Chile, the Antarctic, Argentina Falklands Islands, and other surrounding islands.

Chinstrap Penguins grow to 28-31 inches. They have a distinctive appearance with a white head that is only black at the top. Their heads also have a thin band underneath the chin, thus their name.

Chinstrap Penguins lay their eggs on stone nests, and both genders are responsible for hatching chicks.

They are good swimmers, covering up to 50 miles on a hunting day. However, they face predators on land and in the sea.

Yellow-Eyed Penguin

The Yellow-Eyed Penguin is next on the list. They are native to New Zealand, and they can grow 24-31 inches tall. Their yellow eyes are easy to recognize, which is where they get their name.

Yellow-Eyed penguins also have a pale yellow band that goes around the back of their heads from the eyes.

The rest of their heads are also dark brown, rather than the conventional black. Yellow-Eyed Penguins are naturally sedentary, tending to stay in the same area for long periods.

Although they do not live in colonies, they only make short trips, ensuring not to stray too far from the territory.

Yellow-Eyed penguins can be quite aggressive, and they tend not to nest insight of another pair. They use shrill vocalizations to communicate with potential mates during the breeding season.

They usually build their nests near a tree, log, or bank in solitary locations. However, both male and female penguins sit eggs during incubation, and they mate for life. They also take turns to look after chicks when they are hatched.

Yellow-Eyed Penguins risk contracting unknown diseases which affect chicks and entire species. Due to this factor, they are now an endangered species.

Royal Penguin

The Royal Penguin is the sixth-largest penguin in the world. It can weigh up to 18 pounds and can grow 26-30 inches tall. Royal Penguins have a notable black and yellow crest.

Their face, chest, and belly are white with a black back and flippers. Royal Penguins live in very large colonies.

They have a highly synchronized breeding cycle that starts when males start to claim nest spots in late September. They usually lay two eggs, but only one of them hatches in most cases.

Royal Penguins are native to Australia’s Macquarie Island, but some colonies can be found on the surrounding Islands.

They prefer to live on bare areas on beaches, and fish and squid are their main sources of food. Their incubation period is approximately 30 days.

Both parents take part in feeding the hatched chicks, foraging for about two days each. Chicks are usually ready to forage the sea at about six months of age.

Magellanic Penguin

Next is the Magellanic Penguin found in Chile, Argentina, and Falklands Islands. It can grow from 24 to 30 inches tall.

Magellanic Penguins are closely related to Humboldt and African Penguins, and all species have a similar horseshoe-shaped band on their chests.

However, the Magellanic Penguin is unique in that it also has a black band at the top of its head. Magellanic Penguins are known to mate for life and nest at the same spot every year.

They usually mate in the warmer months when there is plenty of vegetation to provide shelter. They tend to head to sea when their chicks mature and can travel thousands of miles before they return to the nest for the next mating season.

Macaroni Penguin

With a maximum height of around 28 inches, the Macaroni Penguin is the eighth largest penguin in the world.

It is found in New Zealand, Chile, a range of islands in Australia, the Falkland Islands, and South Africa. Magellanic penguins have large orange beaks and an orange or yellow crest on their heads, making them easily distinguishable. 

Magellanic Penguins tend to migrate to rocky cliffs next to the sea from October to April. Here, they mate and hatch their young ones.

They return to the open sea for the next six months, where they travel far and wide. During this period, they forage for crustaceans, fish, and squid, which are among their favorite delicacies. During the mating season, the main source of food is krill.

Humboldt Penguin

Humboldt penguins have a distinctive black mark on their chest in the shape of a horseshoe. They can grow to a height of 28 inches.

They are native to South Africa but found in parts of Peru and Chile. Humboldt Penguins prefer caves and rocky shorelines where they build their nests during the breeding season, which lasts from March to December.

Their main source of food is fish, but crabs and squid are popular delicacies among some colonies.

Humboldt penguins are highly social, tending to live in large colonies. They maintain their colonies by communicating effectively, which enables them to defend themselves from predators collectively.

However, Humboldt penguins do not need to huddle together in large groups to generate warmth since they reside in areas with warm climates. They are monogamous.

African Penguin

The African Penguin takes tenth place on the list of the largest penguins in the world. It can achieve a maximum height of 26.5 to 27.5 inches.

African Penguins are sometimes referred to as jackass penguins due to the braying sounds they make, which are quite similar to donkeys’.

African Penguins have a lack horseshoe-shaped mark on their chest like several other penguin species.

However, they are easy to distinguish through the pink marks they have above their eyes. These marks contain glands that the birds use to regulate body temperature.

Unfortunately, African Penguins face numerous threats from localized fishing which depletes their food source and predators.

Old spills have also decreased their populations significantly, and they are now categorized as an endangered species.

These are the largest penguin species in the world. However, it is believed that numerous other larger penguin species roamed the earth millions of years ago.

An example is the colossus penguin which weighed over 250 pounds, achieving a maximum height of over 8 feet. Its remains were discovered in 2014, and it is believed to have lived approximately 37 million years ago.

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