Learn All About Adélie Penguins

The Adélie penguin might be small in size, but it’s mighty in spirit.

This penguin doesn’t take anything from any animal, even if it is bigger. It can hold its own on the Antarctic coast.

What You Should Know

Adélie penguins live among the entire Antarctic coast and are also found on the neighboring small islands. They feed on small aquatic creatures. Some of their favorite foods include shrimp-like krill, squid and fish. They will dive more than 500 feet in search of the food they want but typically stick to the shallower waters.

Adélies are efficient swimmers, just like most other penguin species. They will travel nearly 200 miles round-trip if they are hunting food.

What Sound Do They Make?

Adélie penguins will quarrel with one another. A chick’s calls are short and high pitched while the adult’s calls last longer and have a deeper tone.  You can listen to its adorable sound with this YouTube video.

Group Characteristics

Scientists studying the Adélie know a lot about the warm-weather behavior because that’s when they breed. During winter, they spend most of their time at sea in the ice and it’s often difficult to track their routes. On the penguins that have been followed, it’s notable that some travel over 700 miles from their breeding site.

During the spring season, they move to the rocky coastline and live in large colonies. These groups often include thousands of birds. They build a nest and line it with stones. Despite their waddle, they can walk long distances. Sometimes, they have to walk over 30 miles to reach the open water from their nest.

The male Adélie works with its mate to raise the young. The female lays two eggs and then both parents swap chances to sit on the eggs and keep them warm. Once the small penguins are born, it takes about three weeks before the parents will venture off without them. Still, the offspring stick close to the group for protection. After nine weeks, these young penguins can swim on their own.

The Adélie is the tiniest type of penguin in the Antarctic, but don’t let the small size fool you. They are known to be extremely combative. In fact, they slap researchers, seals and the larger seabirds with their flippers.

How Many are There?

Current estimates point to about 10 million Adélie, which is higher than it was before. Still, scientists continue to warn that the population is at risk due to climate change.

Adélie penguins find themselves as prey to many larger creatures. Some of their biggest nemeses are sea birds, killer whales, seals and orcas.

Watch a Video

In our first video, we get a glimpse of the Adélie penguins from National Geographic.

The second one shows what happens when one of these small creatures attacks an Emperor chick.

Pop Culture

The Adélie penguins have been showcased in more movies than you might realize. Most recently, they were the star of DisneyNature’s Penguins. It’s also interesting that this species is used as the lead stars of the Penguins of Madagascar despite the fact that they don’t live in Africa. In the feature film Happy Feet, we find three varieties of penguin: Emperor, Rockhopper and Adélie.

Interesting Facts

Adélie penguins got their name from a French Antarctic explorer named Jules Dumont d’Urville. When he discovered the birds back in 1840, he wanted to honor his wife, Adéle. Its scientific name is Pygoscelis adeliae which stands for rump-legged or brush-tailed penguins.

In total, there are 18 species of penguins worldwide, but only two calls Antarctica their home. The two species that both live and breed in this region are the Emperor and Adélie penguin.