Adelie Penguin

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Now, here’s a question. What is the true identity of the penguin that became the character model for JR East’s IC card ticket Suica? The answer is “Adelie Penguin”. If you have a Suica, please check it out!
Adelie Penguins are penguins with a distinctive appearance, wearing tuxedos on their bodies and having white eyeliner-like lines around their eyes.
This page summarizes many mysterious secrets about Adelie Penguins.
Let’s take a look right away!



~ Basic information. ~

Aves-Sphenisciformes-Spheniscidae-Adelie Penguin genus.



■Changes in body weight.

Male: 5.3kg Female: 4.7kg. (Breeding time)

Male: 4.3kg Female: 3.8kg. (After spawning)
※For adult birds living on King George Island.

■Flipper (wing) length.

Male: 19.2cm Female: 8.9cm.
※For adult birds living at Mawson Station.

■Beak length.

Male: 4cm Female: 3.6cm.
※For adult birds living at Mawson Station.

■Estimated population (FY2017).

7.58 million birds.

The Adelie Penguin’s body is composed entirely of black and white coloring. The belly side is white, while the back side is covered in black feathers. However, their feet are pink. They have a white ring around their eyes, which is not the white of their eyes but rather feathers. The true white of their eyes can be seen when they are excited or engaging in courtship behavior. It is difficult to distinguish between males and females as they look exactly the same, but males are generally said to have larger beaks and bodies.

Adelie Penguins spend time in the northern seas from May to August, but return to the coast of the Antarctic continent where they were born and raised between September and October for breeding. They then form groups called “rookeries” and begin building nests by collecting small stones, with males who arrive first starting the process. However, it is quite difficult to collect small stones that look like they might fall off. Males are desperate to create a nice nest because they cannot attract females who come later if they do not have a good nest.


Adelie Penguins are known to be very resourceful. Some males have been observed stealing stones from other penguins when they are not looking. For Adelie Penguins, stones are as valuable as money is to humans. It’s hard to imagine having your hard-earned money stolen by someone else, isn’t it?

When the female arrives, the pair will mate with each other if they like each other. The female lays two eggs between October and November, and the male usually incubates the eggs first. After about two weeks, the female takes over. During this time, both the male and female do not eat or drink and lose weight after laying eggs. The total incubation period is 32-34 days, after which the chicks hatch safely.


The chicks have a voracious appetite because more than half of their body is made up of their stomachs. For about 22 days after birth, the parents take turns keeping them warm and feeding them. When they get a little bigger, the chicks are placed in a group called a “creche” for communal care. During this time, parents continue to search for food in the sea and feed their chicks every one or two days. Since chicks are vulnerable to predators when parents are absent, they live under the protection of young birds or single males.


After about 50-60 days of life, the chicks grow to be about the same size as their parents and are ready to leave the nest. The body of a chick covered with gray fluff gradually changes into black and white feathers like an adult’s feathers. At this time, there is no white ring around their eyes yet, but it gradually appears as they grow up. When they become adults, they leave that place for a while but return to their birthplace several years later to breed.

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Adelie Penguin’s Q&A.

What is the origin of the name Adelie penguin?

In 1840, French explorer Dumont d’Urville discovered a part of the Antarctic continent. He named it “Adélie Land” after his wife. It is said that he also named the penguins living there “Adélie,” but it is not known whether he named them at the same time or separately.

In any case, it is clear that a woman named Adélie was the inspiration. By the way, there is a strange theory that he named them after hearing the loud cries of the penguins, which sounded like his wife was screaming. But whether this theory is true or not is unknown.


Why do Adelie penguins live there?

Adelie Penguins breed and raise their young on various islands, including the coast of the Antarctic continent. Breeding sites outside the Antarctic coast include the South Shetland Islands, South Sandwich Islands, Bouvet Island, Scott Island, Balleny Islands, and Peter I Island.

They also move to the southernmost point of Cape Royds. In addition, they have been spotted on the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, sub-Antarctic islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and along the coasts of South Africa and Australia.

Although it is possible that they were carried by drift ice over a wide area, it is believed that there are large numbers of Antarctic krill living under the ice along the coast of the continent and islands. Therefore, it is thought that Adelie Penguins can easily find food if they live there.


What do Adelie penguins eat?

They dive into the sea to eat squid, octopus, Antarctic krill, and crustaceans. In the case of chicks, parents feed them digested crustaceans mouth-to-mouth. However, when they are artificially raised in an aquarium, they are fed a paste-like mixture of krill and other ingredients such as coffee milk after being blended in a mixer.

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Is it true that Adelie penguins plunge their mates into the sea?

As it turns out, it’s true. Have you ever heard the term “first penguin”? In fact, this appears as one of the business terms and means “challenger”. And the origin comes from a certain habit of the Adelie penguin, so I will introduce it.

Adelie Penguins usually dive into the sea to eat, but there are also natural predators like seals in the sea. To check the situation, someone has to dive into the sea first. Anyone is scared to be the first to dive, but as a result, they start pushing each other gradually. As a result, the first penguin to fall into the sea is treated as a “first penguin,” or in other words, an experimental subject.

If the first penguin that fell into the sea is not eaten by a seal, it is considered safe and other penguins start diving into the sea one after another. However, if they see blood in the water because one of them was eaten, they stop entering the sea from that location. Although it is a means to increase their chances of survival even a little bit, living in nature is much harder than we can imagine.élie penguins in Antarctica, Antarctic Peninsula.JPEG

Is it true that female Adelie penguins flirt?

Penguins are “monogamous” animals with a wonderful bond! However, in the case of Adelie penguins, the situation seems to be a little different.

Adelie Penguins are known for their resourcefulness. Small stones are very important and valuable to them, not only for males but also for females who have become partners. Sometimes, stealing small stones is a common occurrence.

At such times, females go to steal small stones from unmarried males in a different way than males. To put it simply, it’s like a wife with a husband going to meet an unmarried man.

For males who haven’t met a nice female yet, it’s a lucky happening if a nice female suddenly appears in front of them. Females take advantage of this feeling and approach males. Without knowing that the child is the partner of another male, the male is happy to engage in breeding behavior.

Then, the female takes advantage of the opportunity and takes small stones from the nest of an unmarried male and returns to her original partner as if nothing had happened. Now, what’s a little worrisome here is which one is the father of the eggs that this female will lay? Unlike humans, DNA testing is not possible, and there is even a possibility that they are children of unmarried males. Only God knows the truth.

Looking at it this way, Adelie Penguin females seem to have an incredible personality! However, it is said that less than 5% of them engage in breeding behavior with other unmarried males despite having their original partners. Also, there is a reason for such behavior, and it is said that breeding with multiple males increases the success rate of raising chicks with strong genes. In other words, it is considered necessary behavior to leave descendants with strong genes even a little bit.


I want to know more about the personality of the Adelie penguin!

When humans approach, Adelie Penguins do not run away much and tend to stay in place, which is a bold personality in a sense. However, they attack individuals who invade their nests. In addition, they have a dark side and have been known to push Emperor Penguin chicks off cliffs and take over their territory as compensation for helping them.


Is there a place where I can see Adelie penguins?

As of November 2021 Currently, there are four places in Japan where Adelie Penguins are being kept: “Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise (Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture),” “Nagoya Port Aquarium (Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture),” “Adventure World (Shirahama City, Wakayama Prefecture),” and “Kaiyukan (Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture)”.

For those who want to see real Adelie Penguins in the wild, there is also the option of participating in an Antarctic cruise. Although the travel expenses are high, you can apply through a travel agency. Why not use this as a reference?


Do Adelie penguins have natural enemies?

Adelie Penguins’ enemies include killer whales and leopard seals that lurk in the sea. Also, birds called skuas prey on their eggs and chicks. However, humans may be the biggest enemy of Adelie Penguins.

Currently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has designated Adelie Penguins as “least concern” for extinction risk. However, in 2017, a large number of chicks died in a certain rookery of Adelie Penguins, and only two survived.

It is believed that this was due to out-of-season seawater flowing into the sea around the rookery. In other words, krill that can usually be eaten near the rookery also went far away due to changes in seawater, and chicks could not withstand hunger until their parents returned to the rookery and died.

It is unclear whether this phenomenon of seawater inflow is directly related to global warming, but it is a fact that various phenomena that were unimaginable in the past are occurring all over the world due to climate change. I hope this opportunity will encourage you to think about better relationships between humans and penguins.


What is the lifespan of an Adelie penguin?

The lifespan of Adelie Penguins, which live in harsh natural environments, is up to about 20 years at most.

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アイキャッチ画像 Penguin (Pygoscelis adeliae) – Flickr – Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith.jpg