Chinstrap penguins are named for the thin line of black feathers just above their necks. They live on various islands in the south Pacific and Antarctic Oceans.
1. Scientific & Common Names
4. Present Status
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Aves
Order - Sphenisciformes
Family - Spheniscidae
Genus - Pygoscelis
Species - P. antarcticus
Common Names – Chinstrap Penguin, Ringed Penguin, Bearded Penguin
Chinstrap penguins grow up to 28 inches long and can weight up to 11 lbs. Like many types of penguin, they are predominantly black above and white below, which helps them camouflage in the water when seen from above or below. Chinstrap penguins have a thin line of black feathers around the lower portion of their head, giving the appearance of a helmet with a chinstrap.
Chinstrap penguins build nests out of stones and lay two eggs at a time. The mother and father take turns sitting on the eggs to incubate them. Each penguin sits on the egg for six days at a time before switching. The eggs hatch after 37 days. Newborn penguins have shaggy grey feathers when they are born, which they will moult (or shed) after about two months.
Chinstrap penguins swim up to 50 miles away from shore to find food, which consists mostly of krill but may also include shrimp and fish. During breeding season, they can form huge nesting colonies, often mixing with other penguin species in the same genus, including Adele and Gentoo penguins. These colonies can number over 100,000 pairs of penguins.
Penguins have been around since the time of the dinosaurs in the late Cretaceous Period. Around 30 to 40 million years ago, there were much larger penguins than exist today, some of which could grow to over five feet tall. Though not very graceful on land, penguins have evolved to be extremely streamlined in the water, and chinstrap penguins are no exception. They can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour while swimming.
Chinstrap penguins are a species of "Least Concern". There are thought to be over 7.5 million breeding pairs of chinstraps. However, as their habitat is the cold waters of Antarctica, climate change is an issue that may threaten these penguins in the future.