Antarctica: The Summertime Penguin Guide

October 1, 2010 9:00 am

In the peninsular and continental regions the National Geographic Explorer took us, summertime brings adelies, gentoos, chinstraps and the rare emperor penguin. How to tell them apart? Here’s a nifty guide. (Hint: It’s not hard.)


On board the National Geographic Explorer, a poster plots penguin species' locations. The Antarctic Peninsula (and colder temps) is at the bottom left.


The Adelie

At half the size of an emperor penguin, an adelie is one of the smallest penguin species. They are entirely black and white, and prefer colder climates.

The Gentoo

The easiest way to tell a gentoo apart from other penguin species is by the orange beak. They prefer moderate climates and can be found on the Falkland Islands and South Georgia as well as the Antarctic Peninsula.

The Chinstrap

Chinstraps are small like adelies, but like to hang out in sub-Antarctic climates like the gentoos. As adorable as they are, they are among the meanest penguin species.

The Emperor

Rarely seen on expeditions because they prefer colder inland climates, emperor penguins have a later mating period, making their chicks less likely to survive the winter and more worthy of their own Morgan Freeman-approved documentary. We were lucky enough to spot two emperors on different days, hunting alone near the water’s edge on the continent.

As Antarctica approaches summer, these birds will be making their appearances once again. TKGO’s Antarctica Week(s) may be coming to a close, but you’ll see plenty more in the Shot of the Week every Sunday. If you’re having withdrawal, just send me an email at Tara(at) and we’ll see if we can make some of these photos into wallpaper for your apartment.

Happy exploring!

Tara for TKGO

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