April 25th is World Penguin Day. The day recognises one of the unique birds on the planet.
History of World Penguin Day:
World Penguin Day takes place during the annual northern migration of Adelie penguins, a species of penguin that is native to Antarctica. The Adelie penguins individually migrate north to have better access to food during the winter months and then during the summer, return to the coastal beaches on Antarctica to build their nests. The holiday was created at McMurdo Station, an American research centre on Ross Island. Researchers noticed that the Adelie penguins began this migration specifically on this day, and they created this holiday to pass the time and give social awareness to these creatures.
- There are 18 species of penguins, and all but one of their natural habitats are in the Southern hemisphere, only one species, the Galapagos penguin, found north of the equator.
- In 2018, there was estimated to be 12 million penguins in Antarctica.
- 5 species of penguins (African, Erect-crested, Gentoo, Northern Rockhopper and Yellow Eyed) are categorised as endangered.
- Penguins lost the ability to fly millions of years ago, but their powerful flippers and streamlined bodies make them very accomplished swimmers.
- They are the fastest swimming and deepest diving species of any birds and can stay underwater up to 20 minutes at a time.
- While swimming, penguins will leap in shallow arcs above the surface of the water, a practice called porpoising. This coats their plumage with tiny bubbles that reduce friction, allowing them to swim as fast as 22 miles per hour.
- Penguins sleep for a few minutes at a time, throughout the day and then they also sleep for longer periods on land and at night. They will sleep sitting in the water, standing up, lying down or just sitting.
- The light front and dark back tuxedo-like coloration of classic penguin plumage is called countershading. This stark colour pattern provides superb camouflage from above and below to protect penguins in the water.
- The Emperor Penguin is the biggest of the 18-penguin species and is largest of all birds.
- Emperor Penguins are the tallest at about 4 feet tall and weighing up to 90 pounds when mature.
- The smallest is the Little Blue, which stands about 16 inches and weighs only 2 pounds.
- Emperor penguins and king penguins do not make any nests. Instead, a single egg for each mated pair is incubated on a parent’s feet and kept warm by a flap of skin called a brood pouch. Incubation can take 8-10 weeks and occurs during winter, so the egg must always be kept warm and safe.
- Depending on the species, a wild penguin can live 15 to 20 years.
- They spend up to 75 percent of their lives at sea.