Penguin Fun Facts — 13 Fascinating Things You Might Not Know

by Mariah De Los Santos

January 20, 2022

Improve your knowledge about our loveable flippered friends with these fascinating facts about penguins.

Happy Penguin Awareness Day! It’s always a good time to celebrate the majesty and silliness of penguins. Here’s a rundown of the most fascinating, funny or important penguin facts we could find. Dive in! 

Chinstrap and Gentoo penguins fish on an iceberg off Half Moon Island. *This picture was taken in 2020 during the Antarctic leg of the Pole to Pole expedition.

1. Emperor penguins can dive up to 560 meters, which is so deep there is barely any visible light remaining. Adélies can dive to 180 m. Chinstraps only dive to 70 m.

2. Storks are thought to be the closest living relatives to penguins.

3. Emperor penguins can spend up to eight years at sea before they are ready to mate and come to land. Adélies and chinstraps take 3-7 years.

King penguins mark their territory on a nesting site on the north side of Elephant Island.

4. Ardley Island, an Adélie penguin colony on the Antarctic Peninsula, is 6,700 years old.

5. The extinct colossus penguin stood over 6 ft tall and weighed over 200 lbs.

6. Penguin circulation is set up to keep their wings extremely cold so they don’t lose body heat to their flippers.

7. Penguins have flattened corneas, which prevents the light from bending as it hits their eyes underwater. This allows penguins to see clearly underwater, helping them hunt and avoid predators.

Gentoo penguins swim and play in Paradise Harbour, Antarctica.

8. Adélie penguins can nest in colonies of up to 500,000 nests. That’s 1 million adult penguins!

9. Unlike most birds, penguins do not have hollow bones.

10. Penguins have backward-facing spikes made of keratin on their tongues to help them hold onto fish.

11. Both penguin parents take care of the chicks.

Chinstrap penguins on Elephant Island in Antarctica.

12. After a winter apart at sea, penguin pairs come back to the same nesting location and find each other through mating call recognition.

13.Penguins have a lot of tightly packed, neatly arranged feathers which keep water out and make them very hydrodynamic.

Chinstrap penguins diving into the ocean at Snow Island, South Shetlands, Antarctica.

Now you’ve got the facts about penguins, it’s time to help them out! As wildlife struggles, we urgently need new ocean sanctuaries in the Antarctic and across the world. With these in place, animals like these penguins have the space to recover and adapt to our rapidly changing climate, safe from harmful industries.

Sign now to demand President Biden lead on ocean protection!

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Mariah De Los Santos

By Mariah De Los Santos

Mariah is the Online Content Associate at Greenpeace USA, based in Washington D.C.

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