Adelie
African
Blue
Chinstrap
Emperor
Erect Crested
Fiordland
Galapagos
Gentoo
Humboldt
King
Macaroni
Magellanic
Rockhopper
Royal
Snares Crested
Yellow-Eyed

Description

The African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus), also known as the Black-footed Penguin is a species of penguin confined to southern African waters. It is known as Brilpikkewyn in Afrikaans, Inguza or Unombombiya in Xhosa, Manchot Du Cap in French and Pingüino Del Cabo in Spanish. It is also widely known as the "Jackass" Penguin for its donkey-like bray, although several species of South American penguins produce the same sound. African Penguins grow to 68–70 cm (26.7–27.5 in) tall and weigh between 2 and 5 kg (4.4 and 11 lb). They have a black stripe and black spots on the chest, the pattern of spots being unique for every penguin, like human fingerprints. They have pink glands above their eyes, which are used for thermoregulation. The hotter the penguin gets, the more blood is sent to these glands so it may be cooled by the surrounding air, thus making the glands more pink.This species exhibits slight sexual dimorphism: the males are larger than the females and have larger beaks. The beak is more pointed than that of the Humboldt. Their distinctive black and white colouring is a vital form of camouflage– white for underwater predators looking upwards and black for predators looking down onto the dark water. This is called countershading.

Habitat

The African Penguin is found on the south-western coast of Africa, living in colonies on 24 islands between Namibia and Algoa Bay, near Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It is the only penguin species that breeds in Africa and its presence gave name to the Penguin Islands.

Breeding

The African Penguin is monogamous. It breeds in colonies, and pairs return to the same site each year. The African Penguin has an extended breeding season, with nesting usually peaking from March to May in South Africa, and November and December in Namibia. A clutch of two eggs are laid either in burrows dug in guano, or scrapes in the sand under boulders or bushes. Incubation is undertaken equally by both parents for about 40 days. At least one parent guards the chicks until about 30 days, whereafter the chick joins a creche with other chicks, and both parents head out to sea to forage each day. Chicks fledge at 60 to 130 days, the timing depending on environmental factors such as quality and availability of food. The fledged chick then go to sea on their own and return to their natal colony after a lengthy time period of 12-22 months to molt into adult plumage. When penguins molt, they are unable to forage as their new feathers are not waterproof yet; therefore they fast over the entire molting period, which in African Penguins takes about 20 days.

Diet

African Penguins forage in the open sea, where they pursue pelagic fish such as pilchards and anchovies and marine invertebrates such as squid and small crustaceans. A penguin may consume up to 540 grams of prey every day, but this may increase to over 1 kg when raising older chicks.

Threats

African Penguins forage in the open sea, where they pursue pelagic fish such as pilchards and anchovies and marine invertebrates such as squid and small crustaceans. A penguin may consume up to 540 grams of prey every day, but this may increase to over 1kg when raising older chicks.