Polar Record


Emperor penguin colony at Cape Washington, Antarctica

Gerald L. Kooymana1, Donald Crolla1, Sheridan Stonea1 and Steven Smitha1

a1 Scholander Hall, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA


This article describes the natural history of a large colony of emperor penguins Aptenodytes for steri, its size, dispersal pattern of chicks, and associations with other bird and mammal species. A mid-season count of 19,364 chicks indicated that about 20–25,000 breeding pairs had been present in June and July. The colony was fragmented into several sub-groups which showed different mean sizes of chicks and survival to fledging. Other species observed included leopard seals Hydrurga leptonyx, the only major predators, which preyed heavily on both adults and fledging chicks. Fledgelings left the colony over a period of about 10 days; departure was an active process in which the chicks walked to the ice edge and dispersed in groups, swimming consistently southward. At this time they were still in about 60% down and weighed about 10 kg, having lost some 30% of the heaviest mass achieved during parental feeding.

(Received May 1989)