Adelie penguins are the commonly known penguin with black wings, white bellies and black-tipped beaks. During breeding season, they are found living in colonies on the Antarctic peninsula and surrounding islands. Their winters are spent living offshore in the seas surrounding the Antarctic ice pack. As of 2011, there are about 2.5 million pairs of Adelie penguins feeding on fish and krill.
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Size and Lifespan
Named after the wife of the French explorer Admiral Durmont d'Urville, adult Adelie penguins stand around 30 inches tall and weigh about 4.99 Kilogram. They are the smallest and most widely distributed penguin in Antarctica. Chicks grow to be as large as their parents within a few weeks of hatching. The average lifespan of the Adelie is about 20 years.
Adelie penguins feed on fish, squid and tiny aquatic creatures like krill. Normally, they hunt in water that is around 250 feet deep, but they are capable of diving up to 500 feet to obtain a meal. They are excellent swimmers and may travel up to 185 round-trip miles to feed.
Each year during the October breeding season, Adelie penguins migrate from the sea ice to the rocky Antarctic coastline. They form colonies of thousands to breed and raise chicks. Mating couples build nests from rocks. The female usually lays two eggs in November, then both the male and female take turns sitting on the eggs for the next 35 days. After the chicks hatch, parents keep a close watch on them until they are about three weeks old. Then, while the parents search for food, the chicks gather together in small groups called creches.
Leopard seals are the biggest threat to Adelies. They often patrol the shoreline to attack incoming or outgoing penguins. They are also able to use their weight to break through thin ice from underneath, sending penguins into the water. Adelies also must protect their eggs and young chicks from Skuas, an aggressive gull that will try to cleverly distract penguins to steal eggs or chicks. Killer whales, also known as Orcas, will also prey on Adelie penguins.
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