King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) molting, Grytviken, South Georgia.

Part 2. Penguins

To many people, penguins are a symbol of the Antarctic, and, indeed, they are the most joyful part of any trip to the shores and seas of the Far South. Although some of them occur all the way to the Equator, and the highest species diversity is found in New Zealand region, Scotia Sea is probably the best place to see them. Its islands have some of the world's largest penguin colonies. Eight species breed here, and at least five others visit regularly or occasionally.
King penguin chicks molting into juvenile plumage. Grytviken, South Georgia.
Juveniles differ from adults (bird to the left) by paler yellow ear patches. Grytviken.
King penguins, Grytviken, South Georgia.
King penguin is the largest breeding species of the Scotia Sea. Its even larger relative, emperor penguin (A. forsteri), breeds further south and visits the area during non-breeding season, but is very rarely seen here. King penguins usually breed on flat snow-free beaches and adjacent level areas. They are less migratory than some other species, but feed on fish and squid 40-1,000 km from the colony. They can dive to almost 300 m and are fast swimmers, but not as good at porpoising as some smaller penguins. penguins
Small king penguin colony, Gold Harbour, South Georgia.
King penguins swimming. Gold Harbour, South Georgia.
King penguin chicks sharing their beach with Antarctic fur seals. Gold Harbor.
King penguin, Grytviken, South Georgia.
King penguins breed in colonies of up to 40,000 pairs on South Georgia (200,000 pairs in 32 colonies) and Falkland Islands (400 pairs), but are extinct on Tierra del Fuego. Another subspecies forms much larger colonies in other parts of the Southern Ocean. They have extended breeding season, with birds present at colonies at any time of the year. Chicks take 10-13 months to fledge, so each pair only breeds twice every three years. Their population is currently slowly rising. penguins
Part of king penguin colony, Gold Harbour.
Macaroni penguin colony, Elsehul, South Georgia.
Macaroni penguins(Eudyptes chrysolophus), Elsehul, South Georgia.
Macaroni penguin, Elsehul, South Georgia.
Macaroni penguin prefers steep rocky slopes. About half of the world's population breeds in Scotia Sea area, with 3 million pairs in sixty colonies at South Georgia, and smaller colonies on all other island groups. On the Falklands and Tierra del Fuego it is rare, but its close relative, small rockhopper penguin (E. chrysocome), is very common (2.5 million pairs on the Falklands, 175,000 on Tierra del Fuego). The latter is even better at rock climbing and porpoising. penguin
Macaroni penguins, Elsehul, South Georgia.
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Macaroni penguin rockhopping, Elsehul, South Georgia. Macaroni penguin porpoising, off Elephant I, South Shetland Islands.
Macaroni penguin chicks,
Elsehul, South Georgia.
Both macaroni and rockhopper penguins feed mostly on krill, but partially switch to fish and squid when they feed their chicks, or when krill populations crash. They usually dive to 10-80 m, and are are more migratory than king penguins. Their breeding season is highly synchronized breeding season, with all eggs in a colony laid within 2-3 weeks. Birds start arriving to colonies in October, and leave in late February-March. Unlike king penguins, they build nests of grass and pebbles and lay two eggs. The first egg is usually smaller and seldom hatches. The numbers of both species are apparently stable at the moment. penguin
Rockhopper penguin,
Gypsy Cove, Falkland Islands.
King penguins and Southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina), Grytviken.

Part 3: Penguins (continued)
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