For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been, literally, keeping one eye on this penguin nest, waiting for the little egglet in it to hatch.
Being the (sometimes) impatient person I am, I reached out to Aquarium of the Pacific via their Twitter account, and they let us know that, if all goes well, this baby penguin is due to be out and about this week!
Shim and Whatever are the epitome of penguins in love, by all accounts, and, when I happened upon that frame, I knew I’d be sharing a little penguin love with my readers. And, of course, it made me curious to know more about these special creatures.
Not What I Expected in a Penguin
When I think “penguin,” I envision the cold-weather iconic bird we’ve glimpsed on nature documentaries. You know — freezing ice and swirling snow around a penguin pack in Antarctica. But that’s not the Magellanic Penguin. And I think many might consider this to be a smarter model for one simple reason: This species is a warmer-weather, beach-loving bird.
According to Wikipedia, these black and white beauties are South American, breeding in coastal Argentina, Chile, and the Falkland Islands, with some migrating to Brazil, and they’ve been known to take the occasional trip to spend time on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. It’s appropriate then that the name Magellanic comes from famous explorer Ferdinand Magellan’s discovery of the species during his maiden voyage to South America’s southern-most tip in the early 1500s.
Penguin 101: Getting to Know Them
The Magellanic is one of up to 20 penguin species. We say “up to” because sources vary regarding just how many penguin species there are in the world. Some say 17; others, 17 to 19 (cited by World Wildlife Fund); and still others, 18 to 20.
Considering all species, penguins range from 2 to 80 pounds and 10 inches to 4 feet tall, with Nat Geo and others noting prehistoric varieties which stood a bit taller. The average Magellanic Penguin is a little more than 2 feet tall and weighs between 6 and 15 pounds, with males being larger than females.
All penguins feed from the seas, though each species has primarily different tastes, which enables the various species to co-exist in one location by reducing food source competition. Squid, krill, fishes, crustaceans, and various sea creatures are their staple foods.
While foraging for food, the white coloring on a penguin’s front side camouflages it from sea predators, while the black on its back side camouflages it from airborne predators.
Most Interesting Penguin Facts
Excepting the Galapagos Penguin, all penguins in the wild live in southern hemisphere.
Penguins have supraorbital glands which remove sodium chloride (a result of the sea water consumed with fish and such) from their bloodstreams.
Like people, penguins exhibit different personalities. We enjoyed and recommend your reading Aquarium of the Pacific’s Magellanic Penguin personality profiles.
Male and female penguins share parenting tasks, including egg incubation and feeding of chicks. Like many bird species, penguin parents regurgitate food to feed their young. Though rare, older siblings have been witnessed doing the same!
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Emperor Penguin, Southern Rockhopper Penguin, Fiordland Crested Penguin, Erect-Crested Penguin, White-Flippered Penguin, Yellow-Eyed Penguin, African Penguin, Humboldt Penguin, and Galapagos Penguin are listed as Endangered, Threatened, or Under Review. SeaWorld has an excellent appendix of data.
Shim and Whatever’s Penguin Love Story
Shim is the leading male in this penguin love story which was the start of our new-found penguin adoration. He’s described as the biggest male in the Aquarium’s group and Whatever, the bold one, adores every bit of him. You can watch their nest at the Aquarium’s website. And here is the Aquarium’s main Magellanic Penguin page which may interest you.
UPDATE: Shim and Whatever’s little penguin chick hatched May 20, 2016. The photo of baby chicklet and mama was screen captured at the penguin cam site Sunday, May 22, when the baby was about 36 hours old.
Finally, because they’re such great environmental ambassadors, we want to be sure to mention that this web cam is offered courtesy of Explore.org — a philanthropic media organization and division of the Annenberg Foundation.
As I decide this is love story is one which begs to be shared, I realize that I have no penguin photos. How can that be?! Note to self: Go shoot penguins (click not boom).
Update: Shim & Whatever’s surrogate chick was removed from the nest June 6, 2016, because it wasn’t gaining weight as expected. Aquarium of the Pacific tended to the chick from that point forward. It’s with a heavy heart that we report the little chick’s passing June 9, 2016.