20 January is Penguin Awareness Day… (who knew!), so and here are some facts about our funny little feathered friends
1. Penguins are more or less waterproof. Water rarely touches their skin as a gland near the base of the tail secretes an oil that the penguin distributes throughout its feathers as it preens.
2. Male emperor penguins can feed their young! If the chick hatches and its mum is not around, the male, penguin produces and secrete a curdlike substance from his oesophagus that feeds the chick, allowing it to survive and grow for up to two weeks.
3. Penguins hunt by sight. Mind you, no-one can figure out quite how the find their prey in the dark or at great depths, though it’s thought that they may use the light produced by some oceanic squids, crustaceans, and fish to help them out.
4. Penguins swallow their prey whole. And they do it while they’re swimming thanks to a spiny tongue and powerful jaws to grip the slippery fish.
5. They eat stones! One emperor was found with 4.5 kg of stones in its stomach! Why? It’s thought that the stones reduce buoyancy while diving or simply to stop them feeling hungry!
6. Penguins can’t fly. Though Adélie penguins appear to “fly” out of the water, they’re actually jumping and do it most when they come ashore on ice floes and rocky shorelines.
7. Penguins can synchronise their dives. In one study, a single pair of female northern rockhoppers showed identical surface and depth dives hundreds of times over a seven hour period.
8. Siblings feed each other. A researcher in the Falklands noticed an older gentoo chick regurgitating food and feeding its younger sibling. No one knows why it does it, as in theory such an action would likely reduce the older chick’s chances of survival. It must be love!
9. Penguins can suffer feather loss. Wonder Twin, a penguin at SeaWorld Orlando wears a tiny custom-made wetsuit to regulate her body temperature. Aahhh!
All facts taken from Seaworld.