Chinstrap Penguin

Easily identified by the black line around its chin, the Chinstrap Penguin (Pygoscelis antarcticus) is one of the most abundant penguin species. Males and females look identical, with blue-balck bodies, white undersides, and straight black bills. They live at sea for most of the year, feeding in open water north of the polar ice. When swimming at high speed, they often leap clear of the water, or "porpoise," which allows them to breathe and coats their bodies with air bubbles, reducing friction with the water.

In November, chinstraps return to their breeding colonies on ice-free shores in Antarctica and on islands in the Southern Ocean. Here, they make their nests by scraping together small stones to form a shallow cup. Chinstraps tend to be more aggressive than other penguins, particualrly when breeding. They steal stones from their neighbors and chase away any larger penguins that attempt to nest nearby. The female lays two eggs, and her chicks fledge and set off for the sea by February or March, when the southern fall begins. Chinstraps feed almost entirely on krill.

Chinstrap Penguin
Chinstrap Penguin



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