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The Adélie, Pygoscelis adeliae, is the smallest and most widespread penguin species found in mainland Antarctica, in the family Sphenisciformes. Known for their black and white plumage, and distinct white ring around the eyes, Adélie penguins won the hearts of the public for their spunky curiosity, comical shenanigans, and impish behavior.
See the fact file below for more information on the Adélie Penguin or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Adélie Penguin worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The name comes from Jules Dumont d’Urville, a French explorer who discovered the penguins in 1840. He chose to name them after his wife, Adéle.
- Some say they are named after the Adélie Land, a property of the French in Antarctica.
- The scientific name is Pygoscelis adeliae, wherein Pygoscelis means “rump-legged;” however, the genus is popularly recognized as “brush-tailed penguins.”
- Adélie penguins are medium-sized birds, standing between 18 to 28 inches, and weighing 7.9 to 13.2 pounds. Males are believed to be slightly taller and heavier than females.
- They are known for their “tuxedo look,” characterized for the white circle around their eyes, black and white belly, and black facial feathers covering a large portion of their dull orange bill.
- Juvenile or adolescent Adélie penguins have white throats and black eye rings.
- A survivor of the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910, Apsley Cherry-Garrard stated, “they are extraordinarily like children, these little people of the Antarctic world, either like children or old men, full of their own importance,” in his book The Worst Journey in the World.
- Passengers of Antarctic cruises would notice the penguin’s naughtiness – sometimes, they push an unlucky member of their group into the sea in order to be sure the water below is free from predators.
- Some would also sneak around their neighbor’s nests, and some make their chicks chase them until they get tired of running around their nesting ground.
- They are excellent swimmers and skilled water hunters, swimming at a speed of 75 kilometers per hour (46 miles per hour), and diving as deep as 175 meters (575 feet). Adélie penguins also love to march and travel long distances, walking an average of 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles) in a year. They go for plonks onto their bellies when enough snow covers the ice.
- Adélie penguins are one of the two penguins found in mainland Antarctica, aside from the Emperor penguin. They chase the sun around this icy continent, since the winter sun never completely sets.
- Since they do not have any land predators, they are extremely curious when humans enter their territory. Sometimes, they walk towards researchers as if doing their own studies.
DIET AND HABITAT
- Adélies feed mainly on small aquatic creatures, such as Antarctic krill, ice krill, silverfish, sea krill, and glacial squid.
- Studies show that these penguins were once on a fish-based diet and began to eat krill about 200 years ago. They assume that this may be caused by the decline of the Antarctic fur seal and baleen whale, resulting in the surplus of krills, which the penguins now take advantage of as an easier source of food.
- In the wild, their main predators include seals, other seabirds like the Skua, and giant fulmars, orcas, and leopard seals.
- Adélies, living in large communities called colonies, are found in Antarctica and in neighboring islands, such as the South Orkney and South Sandwich Island. They live close to the sea ice, but breed on ice-free land.
NESTING AND BREEDING
- Adélies flee on the rocky and icy coastline when they start to mate during the Antarctic spring in October.
- Male Adélies are nest builders, aiming to attract a female through bigger nests. They build nests on sloping lands and line them with pebbles – a strategic move to keep their nests water-free when the ice starts to melt.
- By mid-November, parents take turns incubating their two eggs in order to keep them warm and safe from predators. The first two sitting-on-eggs shifts last for about two weeks, followed by shorter shifts. Eggs hatch by December, and parents alternately guard and feed their young. If there is scarcity in food, only one chick may survive.
- Three weeks after, chicks can be left alone, although they gather in groups, called créche, for safety and warmth. When they reach nine weeks, they begin to swim into the open water on their own. Males become sexually mature at the age of four and females at the age of three. Adélies are expected to live 11 to 20 years in the wild.
- Currently, there are 2.5 million breeding pairs of Adélies in the world. Studies suggest that several populations are expanding, which may be caused by the breakup of ice shelves in the Antarctic, creating an ice-free habitat for these penguins.
- Since 1998, they have been listed as species of least concern, according to the IUCN.
- Adélie penguins play an important role in the Antarctic food chain – they consume tiny creatures and are a source of food for predators. By protecting these penguins, we’re helping to look after and conserve their ocean environment, which benefits all the wildlife that depends on it.
Adélie Penguin Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Adélie Penguin across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Adélie Penguin worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Adélie, Pygoscelis adeliae, which is the smallest and most widespread penguin species found in mainland Antarctica, in the family Sphenisciformes. Known for their black and white plumage, and distinct white ring around the eyes, Adélie penguins won the hearts of the public for their spunky curiosity, comical shenanigans, and impish behavior.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Adélie Penguin Facts
- Introducing Adélie
- Little People of the Ice Kingdom
- Adélie’s Diet
- Think Tank
- Emperor and Adélie
- Other Penguins
- Adélie Excerpt
- Parents’ Love
- Adélie Recap
- Coping with Climate Change
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Link will appear as Adélie Penguin Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 9, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.