• Charles Bergman

Penguin Species Series #6 - The Adélie Penguin


Adélie Penguin, Pygoscelis adéliae

Coolest Fact: They are nature’s cutest thieves, stealing pebbles from neighbors to use for their own nests!

Where It’s Found: Antarctica only, circumpolar

Crucial Facts:

· IUCN Status: Near Threatened

· Population: estimated at 2.4 million pairs

· Mating: There may be multiple matings in any given year

· Nesting: Pebbles on exposed ground

· Annual Cycle: Highly migratory in winter, living at sea

· Life span: about 15 years

· Food: krill, squid, small fish

· Threats: climate change

Our First Sighting: January 11, 2006

Torgerson Island, Antarctic Peninsula

Our Story:

My wife Susan and I saw this charming bird on our first trip to Antarctica. The Adélie penguin is one of only two species to be found exclusively in Antarctica (the other is the Emperor penguin). They nest on open ground or rocks and migrate to open sea in the Antarctic winter. They are amazing in that they will swim up to 185 miles for a single meal.


Though their population numbers are strong, scientific studies suggest that their population will decline as the seas warm with climate change. A recent study suggests that by 2099, the Adélie penguin may have declined by 50%. The Adélie penguins on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula have declined drastically (70%) as temperatures have risen there in the last few decades. A French explorer, Dumont d’Urville, discovered them in 1840 and named them for his wife, Adéle. They are associated with ice, frequently seen on floating icebergs, and are extremely photogenic.


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