The Emperor Penguin is most noted for its size, reaching up to
four feet in height, making it the tallest penguin of its species.
Its stomach is white and its wings and back are black, lending its
trademark "tuxedo look." Although penguins have wings they do not
fly, but swim through the water at an average speed of four to six
miles per hour, with possible bursts of up to twelve miles per hour.
Although water mixed with cold temperatures causes humans to experience
hypothermia and even death, penguins have a preen gland which secretes
an oil that they use to coat their feathers with so water will run
off of them.
Emperor Penguins live in the coldest region of any other penguin
on earth. They not only survive, but reproduce and thrive where
other penguins cannot. Adult Emperor Penguins travel about sixty
miles into Antarctica for breeding season. Although cold temperatures
are a threat to the survival of other penguins and their eggs, the
Emperor Penguin has characteristics that allow them to keep warm,
notwithstanding below freezing temperatures and high winds.
After searching for a mate, the female lays a single egg in the
months of May or June. After laying the egg, the female will carefully
pass the egg to the male to incubate until it hatches. This process
is carefully executed so the egg does not have any contact with
the ice where it would immediately die voiding the couple's attempt
at reproduction that year. When the male successfully receives the
egg he incubates it above his feet in a flap of skin called a brood
pouch. In order to stay warm in the extreme temperatures, Emperor
Penguins form large groups and huddle together. They instinctively
know when to move from the center of this huddle toward the outer
edges to give each penguin the warmth of the middle. This process
allows for them to survive the brutal temperatures in the Antarctic.
After the male has the egg, the female is free to travel to get
food. She returns after about two months. After her arrival she
is able to regurgitate the food for the young chick when it hatches.
If the chick is born before the female returns, the male is able
to produce a milky substance from his esophagus to keep his young
alive. When the female returns to care for her young, the male is
then free to go in search of food.
While it may seem unnatural for a species to reproduce in such
extreme weather conditions, in actuality winter is the ideal season
for reproduction because there is less competition for food. Emperor
Penguin chicks are larger than other penguin species and an adequate
diet is essential for their survival. Only in the harsh days of
winter is there enough food for them. Emperor Penguins diet consists
mainly of cephlapods, such as octopus and squid, but they also eat
krill and fish. Their threat for survival is not only freezing in
the cold temperatures, but also natural predators such as sea lions,
Orca Whales and sharks. Although global warming has raised concerns
for Emperor Penguins, there is thought to be an estimated 350,000
of them in the world.
Survival in Antarctica seems impossible, yet the Emperor Penguin
continues to thrive in these freezing temperatures. Their physical
characteristics, instincts and socialization allow for them to continue
to reproduce and thrive in a climate that would otherwise be deadly.
About the Author
Emma Snow has always adored wild animals. Emma provides content
for Wildlife Animals http://www.wildlife-animals.com
and Riding Stable http://www.riding-stable.com.