The 17 penguin species

Information on penguins

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There are seventeen (17) penguin species in the world, classified into six (6) groups (genera). All of these species live in the southern hemisphere (below the equator).

Penguin species differ in size, colors, habits and habitat. Species of penguins living more southerly (colder areas) tend to be larger than species living in warmer areas.

Below is an overview of the seventeen species together with their lengths and weights. More data and penguin pictures will be added later.

The Great Penguins : genus Aptenodytes - "Flightless Diver"

Emperor penguin - Aptenodytes forsteri

Fact sheet
Length 100-130 cm
Weight 27-41 kg
Average swimming speed 8.5-12 km/h
Distribution Circumpolar on Antarctic continent, within limits of pack ice
Diet Fish, squid and krill
Distinguishing features Largest of all penguins. Has yellow, open ear patches (at both sides of the neck)

King penguin - Aptenodytes patagonicus

A King penguin
King penguin
© Thomas De Schampheleire
Fact sheet
Length 85-95 cm
Weight 13.5-16 kg
Average swimming speed 7.5 km/h
Distribution Sub-Antarctic islands and peninsulas
Diet Mainly fish
Distinguishing features Smaller than the Emperor penguin. Has orange, closed ear patches.

The Brush-tailed Penguins : genus Pygoscelis - "Bottom-legged"

Adelie penguin - Pygoscelis adeliae

Fact sheet
Length 70 cm
Weight 3.6-4.5 kg
Average swimming speed 8-16.5 km/h
Distribution Circumpolar on Antarctic continent, within limits of pack ice
Diet Mainly krill
Distinguishing features All of its feathers are either black or white. Has a white ring around the eye.

Chinstrap penguin - Pygoscelis antarctica

Fact sheet
Length 71-76 cm
Weight 4 kg
Distribution Antarctic and sub-Antarctic islands
Diet Mainly krill, fish
Distinguishing features Has a white head and a small black band running over its chin (hence the name).

Gentoo penguin - Pygoscelis papua

Fact sheet
Length 75-90 cm
Weight 5.5-6.4 kg
Distribution Circumpolar in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters
Diet Mainly krill, fish
Distinguishing features Has white patches behind the eyes and its bill has bright orange-red sides.

The Crested penguins: genus Eudyptes - "Good Diver"

Rockhopper penguin - Eudyptes chrysocome

A Rockhopper penguin spreading its wings
Rockhopper penguin
© Dave Houston (Used w/ permission)
Fact sheet
Length 45-58 cm
Weight 2.3-2.7 kg
Average swimming speed 7.5 km/h
Distribution Sub-Antarctic islands
Diet Mainly krill, also fish
Distinguishing features Smallest of the crested penguins. Has red eyes and drooping crests. The yellow stripes that runs from the start of the crests almost join at the bill.

Erect-crested penguin - Eudyptes sclateri

Fact sheet
Length 67 cm
Weight 2.7-3.5 kg
Distribution Antipodes, Bounty and Campbell Islands (around New Zealand)
Diet No studies; reported as krill and squid
Distinguishing features The only crested penguin with an erect crest: no part of the crest comes below the bird's eye level (when the crest is dry; it droops when it is wet).

Macaroni penguin - Eudyptes chrysolophus

Fact sheet
Length 71 cm
Weight 4.5 kg
Average swimming speed 7.5 km/h
Distribution Sub-Antarctic islands in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans
Diet Mainly krill, some fish
Distinguishing features Plumes are orange rather than yellow, extending backward rather than outward.

Fiordland penguin - Eudyptes pachyrhynchus

Fact sheet
Length 55 cm
Weight 2.7-3 kg
Distribution New Zealand
Diet Little known; one study suggests mainly krill

Snares penguin - Eudyptes robustus

Fact sheet
Length 51-61 cm
Weight 2.7-3 kg
Distribution only on Snares Island, south of New Zealand
Diet Little known; mainly krill, also squid and fish

Royal penguin - Eudyptes schlegeli

Fact sheet
Length 65-75 cm
Weight 5.5 kg
Distribution Mainly on Macquerie Island, also Campbell Island and New Zealand
Diet Krill and fish

The Yellow-Eyed Penguin : Megadyptes - "Large Diver"

Yellow-eyed penguin - Megadyptes antipodes

Fact sheet
Length 56-78 cm
Weight 6 kg
Distribution South-east New Zealand
Diet Mainly fish, squid

The Banded Penguins : Spheniscus - "Wedge-like"

African penguin (Jackass penguin) - Spheniscus demersus

Fact sheet
Length 70 cm
Weight 3 kg
Average swimming speed 3.5-6.5 km/h
Distribution South African coast
Diet Mainly fish

Galapagos penguin - Spheniscus mendiculus

Fact sheet
Length 53 cm
Weight 2.5 kg
Distribution Galapagos Islands, just below the equator
Diet No detailed studies; mainly fish

Humboldt penguin - Spheniscus humboldti

A Humboldt penguin
Humboldt penguin
© Thomas De Schampheleire
Fact sheet
Length 65 cm
Weight 4 kg
Average swimming speed 1.5-8.5 km/h (in captivity)
Distribution Along the coast of Peru and Chile (west coast of South America)
Diet Small fish

Magellanic penguin - Spheniscus magellanicus

Fact sheet
Length 70 cm
Weight 5 kg
Average swimming speed 7.5 km/h
Distribution Falkland Islands and along the coast of Chile and Argentina
Diet Fish and squid

The Little Penguin : Eudyptula - "Little Good Diver"

Little (blue) penguin (Fairy penguin) - Eudyptula minor

Fact sheet
Length 40-45 cm
Weight 1 kg
Average swimming speed 5.5-8.5 km/h
Distribution Southern Australia and New Zealand
Diet Small fish

>> Next page: What do penguins look like?

Note: penguin lengths are measured from the tip of the bill to the tip of the tail, when the penguin is stretched out.

Lengths taken from: Williams, Tony D. The Penguins. New York-. Oxford University Press, 1995.
Weights taken from: Seaworld Penguin Info Book - http://www.seaworld.org/animal-info/info-books/penguin/appendix-species.htm