East Antarctica: Emperor Penguins
Most people taking Antarctic trips to the Antarctic Peninsula from South America never get to see the emperor penguins, who live much further south then most of the cruise ships make it to. Emperor penguins habitats don’t overlap with any other penguins except Adelie, the other truly Antarctic species. When explorers discovered the big penguins in the 17th century, they called them King Penguins. Nearly two centuries later, a couple expeditions came across similar but much larger and heavier penguins and named them Emperor Penguins. Emperors are about 1.5x the size and weight of the more slender Kings and have different color patterns around necks. Emperor penguins stand up to 110–130 cm (43–51 in) and weigh yo to 45 kg (100 lb). They breed in the depth of the Antarctic winter and in summer (which is now) forage for fish offshore, so your chances of encountering them are on ice and iceflows and small icebergs. The first emperors we saw – the whole ship was out to watch them. Beautiful animals! Every next sighting was truly fantastic, with groups of adult emperors on the iceflows and even swimming around – the holy grail of any Antarctica trip!