The Chinstrap penguins hold the distinction of being perhaps the boldest of all penguin species. The second largest group of penguin species, the Chinstraps are known for their aggressive pursuit of prey.
Penguin name: Chinstrap penguins
Scientific name: Pygoscelis antarctica
Size: About 27 inches tall
Location: Southern Islands and Antarctic Peninsula
What Do They Eat? Chinstrap penguins love to eat fish, krill and small crustaceans.
Main Enemies: Leopard seals, Sheathbills and Brown Skua (foraging birds)
photo by Martha de Jong-Lantink
Did you know that Chinstrap penguins move on land like toboggans, sliding here and there on their stomachs? What a sight that must be, and very funny! They move themselves forward and in different directions with their feet and flippers. Another interesting thing about Chinstraps is that they can leap large distances, using their powerful flippers and “wings”.
Are you wondering why they are called “Chinstraps”? They got the name because they have a band of black feathers that reaches from under their chin to each of their ears. This black-on-white stripe is quite noticeable when they lift their heads.
Chinstrap penguins live in the Antarctic, but are also found in small groups south of New Zealand (near Australia) on the Balleny Islands. They not only eat what’s found in the water, but what they find on shore. They can dive up to 200 feet and swim nearly 20 miles per hour, then “climb” out of the water and up the steep, rocky slopes where they live.
Chinstraps are rather unusual as parents. This is because in most penguin cultures, the penguin parents feed the strongest baby first. This is to ensure that the strong survive. However, Chinstrap penguins feed their babies equal amounts of food, no matter which baby is stronger than the other. Because the Chinstraps don’t always live in snow or ice covered land, their babies have a strong survival rate.
If you ever find yourself near New Zealand, keep a close watch on the shore for signs of Chinstrap penguins. They will delight and amuse you for hours!