Antarctica’s penguins are one of the top reasons why people desire to travel to Antarctica. On the White Continent, you will certainly see hundreds of penguins and the wildlife of the region is remarkable. Though there are five different species of penguin that we encounter on our voyages, the sassy, funny, and amorous Gentoo Penguin is always a guest favorite and it’s not hard to see why. Let’s take a closer look at this charismatic creature.

Counting penguins in Antarctica

Home is Where the Heart Is

  • Gentoos gather on the rocky beaches and snowy hills of the Antarctic Peninsula and sub-Antarctic islands of South Georgia, Falkland Islands and the South Shetland Islands.
  • They are native to the region and are not found elsewhere, though they can travel dozens of miles for food.
  • Gentoo Penguin populations are the only penguin species in Antarctica whose population is thriving and growing.
  • Large colonies or ‘rookeries’ of penguins live together, returning to the same place year after year to breed.
  • Gentoos do not have a yearly migration cycle like other penguin species.
Gentoo penguins

Hey Good Lookin’

  • Gentoos are the 3rd largest penguin species, weighing up to 18 lbs with a height of up to 30 inches.
  • This penguin breed is identifiable by its black back and head, white chest, and white stripe or patches around its eyes. They also have bright reddish-orange bills and feet.
  • Gentoo penguins have tongues covered in barbs, that allow them to grip their food and swallow it down.
  • Their long tail feathers are the most prominent tails of any penguin species, and they accentuate their waddle as it sweeps across the ground as they walk.
  • Their appearance is known to be quite peculiar (and can often warrant many laughs from guests) when they go through their yearly ‘catastrophic’ molt. While they are molting, they cannot swim as they are not ‘waterproofed’.
Counting penguins in Antarctica

A Penguin Love Story

  • Gentoos breed in shallow coastal areas and build their nests along rocky or grassy areas – never on snow or ice.
  • They build intricate nests out of rocks and pebbles and will often fight over rocks with each other.
  • These penguins also use rocks as a token of love, presenting them to potential mates to woo them.
  • Once they have selected a partner, Gentoos usually mate with the same one each year.
  • Gentoo Penguins rear 2 penguin chicks each season, as opposed to the usual 1 of other penguin species.
  • The male and female Gentoos take turns incubating the eggs.
  • Cleanliness is important to Gentoo Penguins and they have been known to relocate a rookery that is too dirty or trampled.

Diet & Exercise

  • The Gentoo diet consists mainly of krill as well as squid, crustaceans and fish.
  • Penguins can drink salt water, and have a duct in their eyes that excretes the salt from their bodies.
  • They are the fastest swimmers of the penguin species, reaching speeds of up to 20mph.
  • Gentoos can dive up to 600ft deep and have been known to dive up to 450 dives per day for food.
  • Diving as deep as they do, they can stay underwater for up to 7 minutes.
  • Predators of the Gentoo Penguin are Leopard Seals and Orcas. Seabirds such as Skuas and Giant Petrels are known to steal Gentoo eggs and chicks when they can.

Want to see the funny and adorable Gentoo Penguins for yourself?

Reach out to our team to learn more about our voyages any time!