"Getting to know the penguins: Gentoo" Antarctica Things to Do Tip by toonsarah
Antarctica Things to Do: 500 reviews and 985 photos
We mainly saw two types of penguin on our trip, Gentoo and Chinstrap. The former are distinguished by what look like little white head-phones – or possibly ear-muffs, given the freezing temperatures ;) They also have long stiff tail feathers which stick out behind them as they walk, and bright orange bills.
Gentoos are found in many places on the Antarctic Peninsula and sub-Antarctic islands, also South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. We saw them everywhere we went, but they were particularly numerous at Port Lockroy and Paradise Harbour. At the former in particular they seemed very happy to see their visitors, and certainly came much closer to us than we were supposed to go to them. I am convinced one of them at least was posing for photos – several of us lined the route that he and his companions were following to get to the sea, and as he drew level with each of us he would pause and look straight at the camera for just long enough before moving off to the next person!
Gentoos feed on Rock cod, Lantern fish, crustaceans (krill), amphipods and cephalopods (mainly squid). As with all penguins, this is a smelly diet and it results in very smelly colonies! Their nests are roughly circular in shape and found on rocky, uninhabited shores, built out of whatever supplies are at hand. Competition for nesting materials can be fierce and they will fight over stones or steal them from other birds' nests. However we learnt about one endearing characteristic – the males will often present a stone as a gift to their partner which I guess shows how valuable these nesting materials are.
Gentoos breed earlier in the year than Chinstraps and their chicks usually have their adult feathers by January and are able to head out on their own. However we saw quite a few still hanging around the nests, and indeed still with their juvenile plumage, in early February, which was great. My second photo shows some of these chicks burrowing into their parents for warmth.
Directions: If you can't get to the Antarctic yourself, at the website below you can hear the sound of a Gentoo rookery - although not smell it!!
More Things to Do in Antarctica (15)
More Reviews (23)
- See All Scott of the Antarctic
- See All Lifeboat drill
- See All Facilities on board
- Keeping fit on board
- See All Captain's Receptions
toonsarah's Related Pages
Have you been to Antarctica?Share Your Travels