Chinstrap Penguins (Pygoscelis Antarcticus) mainly inhabit islands of the Scotia Arc, concentrating in vast colonies on the coast of the South Orkneys, South Shetlands and South Sandwich Islands. Chinstraps have blue-black backs with white cheeks and underparts. A thin black line – the ‘chinstrap’ crosses the chin and runs back under the eye to join the nape. Chinstrap Penguins grow up to 68cm in height, and weigh around 6kg.
They are mini mountaineers choosing rocky and ice free slopes as high as 100m above sea level.
Chinstraps return to their breeding grounds in late October / early November. The first birds occupy the highest places using beak and sharp claws, sometimes on all fours to heave their way up to seemingly inaccessible sites. Coming down they may toboggan on their belly. Their diet consists of krill, shrimp and fish, for which they swim up to 80km offshore each day.
Chinstrap Penguins normally have a clutch of two eggs is laid from late November to late December. Both parents share the incubation period of 35-38 days. The chicks are fed on regurgitated krill and join the crèche after the first month or so. Fledged in 52-60 days, they go to sea while the adults begin their moult.
This photo of the Chinstrap penguin was taken at Macquarie Island. Chinstraps are not commonly seen on Macquarie Island, however there are the occasional sighting as they may come ashore for a rest or to get their bearings. This little fella was first seen on the Isthmus, it wasn’t long before we were all out there, to admire the visitor, and take a few photo’s. As far as we know the Chinstrap was only on Macca for one day, it was the first and only Chinstrap we saw all year. Chinstrap Penguins are considered the most aggressive of all penguin.
Tony Soper – Antarctica a guide to the wildlife.
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