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Meet 5 Fascinating Antarctic Penguins


Long before they captured the hearts of audiences in movies like “March of the Penguins” and “Happy Feet”, penguins turned Antarctica’s most barren landscapes into teeming cities.

They number as many as 30 million and are scattered across Antarctica, its surrounding islands and as far north as the equator. Antarctica and its many surrounding islands are home to both common and increasingly scarce penguin populations – each with its own set of quirks.

King Penguins

King Penguin

Similar in look and breeding habits to the slightly larger and more popular emperor penguin, king penguins stand as high as three feet tall and proliferate the islands surrounding Antarctica. Some colonies live as far north as Australia and New Zealand.

Like emperor penguins, king penguins incubate their eggs on their feet under a fold of fat, but unlike emperors, king penguin chicks are deep brown. King chicks take an extraordinarily long time to mature, averaging 14-16 months to fledge. As they mature, the chicks grow to be enormous – sometimes almost as large as their parents – while still covered in comical brown fuzz. Congregating year-round in rookeries of more than 100,000 adult pairs, the chicks look like so many small bean bags.

Because the chicks take so long to fledge, these friendly and outgoing penguins only mate on alternating years.

Gentoo Penguins


This pouty gentoo chick was photographed during one of Quark’s 11-day Antarctic Explorer expeditions.

Gentoo penguins are closely related to chinstrap penguins, though they’re not nearly as numerous. Gentoo populations have declined by two-thirds over the last 25 years due to climate change and oil spills. Despite their sparse numbers, gentoo penguins are the most widely dispersed, being found across Antarctica, its outlying islands and farther north.

These gregarious penguins are happy to cooperate with one another at sea, forming live “sea rafts” in the hundreds to help one another catch prey. Gentoos are fond of trumpeting; their calls are often compared to the sound of a child’s party horn.

Chinstrap Penguins

Chinstrap penguin

These chinstrap penguins at play were photographed by Daniel Femke on our Antarctic Explorer voyage in 2013.

Aptly named after the black stripe under their chins, which resembles a bike helmet and strap, chinstrap penguins are one of the most common penguin species, with populations numbering as high as 15 million. Although barely over two feet high, chinstraps are among the boldest of penguins, preferring icebergs and small, barren islands over more hospitable ground. Chinstrap penguins can commonly be seen hanging out on icebergs and rocky outcroppings across the sub-Antarctic.

Magellanic Penguins

magellanic penguins

These magellanic penguins were photographed playing in the Falkland Islands on one of Quark’s Ocean Diamond tours.

Magellanic penguins are native to South America, though their colonies are commonly found in the rocky coastal areas Argentina and Chile, as well as the Falkland Islands. These unusual penguins are the only species to venture into warm climates, with some colonies migrating as far north as the balmy waters of Rio de Janeiro.

These small, two-foot penguins can swim as fast as 15 mph. Due to their tendency to migrate to warmer waters, magellanic penguins shed the extra feathers around their eyes while they’re in warm temperatures, then regrow the feathers during colder seasons. In recent years, oil spills along their migration routes have taken a significant toll on their numbers.

Rockhopper Penguins

Rockhopper penguin

Rockhopper penguins are named after the way they hop from rock to rock in their Sub-Antarctic island colonies. Visitors to the Antarctic may catch a lucky glimpse of these comical penguins on Saunders and the Falkland Islands.

One of the smaller penguin species at not quite two feet tall, rockhoppers are feisty and sometimes downright aggressive. Their mating routines and calls are particularly gregarious, made especially comical to onlookers by their tufted heads, which give the appearance of angry eyebrows. Rockhopper chicks are equally plucky, taking to the sea at a mere 10 weeks old.

Visitors - Be Respectful, Please!

Stumbling across penguin colonies and rookeries is a frequent and pleasant surprise along Quark’s many Antarctic journeys, although penguin sightings can never be guaranteed. These independent birds roam the sea, islands and continent across Antarctica and it’s not at all uncommon to come across two, three or even four species at one time. Quark explorers experiencing what it’s like to camp overnight on the 7th continent might even have unexpected gentoo guests arrive and inquire about sharing a patch of snow.

As much fun as it is to interact with these inquisitive, fascinating birds, visitors must always keep their distance. Many species of penguin are listed as threatened and or vulnerable species, including the magellanic and rockhopper penguin.

For More Penguin Photos Visit Quark's Wildlife Gallery


The Top 5 Reasons to add Antarctica to your bucket list!


1. Be one of only a few people to Step foot on the 7th continent

Antarctica Hike

2. Enjoy zodiac cruising and get up close to 400 year old icebergs

Zodiac Antarctica

3. Visit historical landing sites, including the Scott Research Centre

Antarctica King Penguin

4. Marvel at thousands of King Penguins and encounter up to 13 other penguin species

Antarctica Sea Spirit Penguins

5. Cross the Arctic Circle and travel furthest south on the planet


Undoubtedly Antarctica is one of the most awe-inspiring destinations in the world! For more information on our amazing Expeditions check out: Antarctica Cruises and Travel




Follow the leader!


Can you keep up? Hurry! These chinstrap penguins are strutting in fine form and will not wait for you to take their picture!


Thanks to passenger "Dan O" for snapping this timely photo from one of our Antarctica Voyages in February 2009.







Penguins and sea kayaks


In this photo, an Antarctic local carefully navigates some rocks, sea kayakers and a Quark ship in the background. Looks like a perfect day in Antarctica!


Feeling adventurous? Amp up your voyage with one of Quark’s adventure options. With seven activities to choose from, there’s something for every level of excitement. Have a look at our interactive Adventure opinions brochure today!
Photo credit: Elsa

Got an ice photo of your own to share? Post it to twitter and tag with #IcePhoto! Follow Quark Expeditions on twitter @quarkexpedition where we share photos and videos and chat about all things polar!

Follow us: @QuarkExpedition on Twitter | QuarkExpeditions on Facebook


Fun facts about an Antarctic voyage


Two Antarctic ambassadors on ice!


Photo by passenger “BryantDuncan” from the Quark passenger slideshow on the November 30th 2012 Antarctic Explorer voyage aboard the M/V Ocean Diamond.

Fun Facts from this voyage:

  • Distance travelled-3,344.9 km
  • Or-1,794.5 nm (nautical miles)
  • Eggs consumed- 450 dozen or 5,400
  • Guests-181
  • Crew-91
  • Expedition Staff-21+ 2 Penguin Dudes
  • From Nationalities-37
  • Travel days-10
  • Sea days-4
  • Lectures, talks and other entertainments-35
  • Yoga sessions-10
  • Glasses of Wine Consumed-1,300
  • And one terrific time overall!

10 things you might not have known about penguins


Our Ice Photo today is from the Quark Expeditions passenger slideshow on the December 9, 2012 Antarctic Explorer voyage. Who doesn't love penguins?!


10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About…


  1. They can jump straight out of the water onto the land.
  2. Baby Adelie penguins grow the fastest of all penguins.
  3. Leopard seals are their biggest enemy.
  4. King Penguins can weigh up to 30 pounds.
  5. Penguins lie on their belly and toboggan through the ice and snow.
  6. Just like whales, penguins have a layer of blubber under their skin.
  7. Adelie penguins can move faster than humans can run.
  8. The name is derived from Welsh terms ‘pen’, meaning head and ‘gwyn’, meaning white.
  9. There may be as many as 100 million penguins in the world.
  10. Some prehistoric species grew to enormous sizes, becoming as tall or as heavy as an adult human

Got an ice photo of your own to share? Post it to twitter and tag with #IcePhoto! Follow Quark Expeditions on twitter @quarkexpedition where we share photos and videos and chat about all things polar!

Follow us: @QuarkExpedition on Twitter | QuarkExpeditions on Facebook



Romantic Antarctica


Did you know that we've had lots of proposals, and even a few weddings on our polar voyages? Antarctica, the North Pole, or the Arctic are all perfect settings for that special moment in your life...talk about making it unforgettable!


Photo from the Quark Expeditions passenger slideshow, Antarctic Explorer voyage, December 2012.

Interested in making your voyage a little more special? Speak to one of our Polar Travel Advisers for details!


Chinstrap penguin ballet


We can't help but smile at this photo of a rather elegant-looking chinstrap penguin taken at Half Moon Island, Antarctica. Approximately 2000 pairs of chinstraps live at Half Moon Island, though whether or not they are all as graceful as this guy remains to be determined.


Photo credit: Daniel and Femke, during our Antarctic Explorer voyage in January 2013.


Creating new Antarctic Ambassadors


A few of us Quark Expeditions recently had the pleasure of attending our first Google+ hangout with some grade one students from Quaker Ridge School in Scarsdale, NY.

Polar Travel Adviser Naomi Box, and Marketing Coordinator Courtenay Oswin were first to jump on board for this project and did a fabulous job chatting with the kids. Below you can see our set up for the afternoon, complete with Antarctic backdrop for "atmosphere":


Quark Expeditions reps Courtenay and Naomi chat with Grade 1s from NY Quark Expeditions Naomi (left) and Courtenay (right) answer questions via Google+ hangout

The kids at Quaker Ridge are studying Antarctica and had many great questions for us about why it's important not to touch penguins, what to eat when you're in Antarctica, whether or not there are schools in Antarctica, and most importantly, what happens when you have to go to the bathroom in Antarctica! Naomi and Courtenay patiently described what working in and visiting the white continent is like for those of us at Quark, creating many new Antarctic ambassadors in the process!

Here is the official customized Quark Expeditions Antarctic Certificate of Participation we sent to each child (this one we left blank for photographic purposes)..and the official chocolate of Quark Expeditions! Don't forget to brush those teeth, kids!

Official Quark Expeditions gift certificate and chocolate

A big thank you to the grade one students of Quaker Ridge School, teacher John Calvert who helped get this whole thing set up, and the other teachers involved. We had a wonderful time creating future Antarctic Ambassadors and would be happy to "hangout" with you guys any time!



Ask Dr. Tom Hart, Penguinologist


Quark Expeditions is excited to announce the return of Dr. Tom Hart, Penguinologist, to the Quark offices this week! He'll be dropping by to chat about all things penguin-related...with you!

We're setting up a live web chat with Dr. Hart this Thursday, June 13th at 12:00pm EST and you're the special guest. Got a burning penguin-related question that demands answering? Wonder how one becomes an expert in the field of penguinology? You won't want to miss out on this very special webinar. Join our facebook event for up to the minute updates here.


Please visit: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/200696407412396288

About Dr. Tom Hart:

Tom runs the Penguin Lifelines project at Oxford University and the Zoological Society of London, through which he monitors Antarctic wildlife using camera trapping, volunteer photos and population genetics. Tom’s PhD at Imperial College and the British Antarctic Survey investigated penguin foraging behavior around South Georgia. He loves the world's cold places and is passionate about protecting them. Tom loves all penguins, but particularly Macaroni Penguins, as they have the most attitude.


a photo from one of Dr. Tom Hart's cameras in Antarctica a shot from one of Dr. Hart's cameras in Antarctica.


What can you expect from a chat with a Penguinologist? Here's a video from the last time Dr. Hart was here answering questions:

Got a question for Tom? Let us know at socialmedia@quarkexpeditions.com and we'll make sure he gets them!

Dr. Tom Hart will be part of the Experts In Residence program on select voyages during our Antarctic 2014 season.


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