Antartica: Half Moon Island

13 Feb 2004 8:33 pm

Chinstrap Penguins
Chinstrap Penguins

Half Moon island is one of the South Shetland Islands which we visited today, Day 5. Upon landing we were all elated with the hundreds of completely adorable Chinstrap penguins we met. There really is nothing cuter than watching these little guys leap out of the cold sea and waddle up discouraging hills, though heaps of stinky penguin crap and around many other hungry chicks to find their own yelping young only to upchuck krill (tiny shrimps) into the mouths of their babes. It just warms the heart, really. A few odd penguin facts for those interested….penguins mate for life. Couples lay 1 to 2 eggs per season depending on the species. Mom and dad take turns sitting on the egg keeping it warm inside the incubation pouch, a feathery flap of skin above the feet. Once the eggs hatch around mid to late December, the proud parents take turns watching the youngsters and hunting for krill in 24 hour shifts. Amaizingly, by 30 or 40 days the little babes are as big as mom and dad. When the weather starts to turn the parents abandon there chicks and it´s the young adults that end up teaching the new chicks how to swim and fish krill. On our cruise we saw Chinstrap and Gintoo penguins which are medium sized in the penguin world – about 2 feet tall.

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