Adélie Penguins: Surprisingly Efficient Predators

Written by on January 25, 2013 in Marine Life, Penguins
Adelie penguin.

Adelie penguin. Photo credit: Michael Van Woert, NOAA NESDIS, ORA.

New research reveals that Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) are incredibly efficient killing machines.

“You could say the penguins have an amazing stealth mode,” said Yuuki Watanabe, a researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research. “They’re great at sneaking up on their prey and taking them unaware. They’re incredible hunters.”

Watanabe and his team were able to determine how the penguins hunt by attaching cameras to more than a dozen penguins. The “penguin cams” were set to turn on when the penguin entered the water.

“We didn’t really know if the penguins caught krill one-by-one. I’d thought that maybe they just got into their stomachs when they were after some other prey,” Watanabe said. “But when we saw the footage it turned out the penguins were doing just that, eating these tiny little creatures one after the other.”

“The krill wiggle their bodies about, they clearly make an attempt to swim off at full speed and escape,” he continued. “But that doesn’t make the slightest difference to the penguins. They just gobble up the krill that are trying to get away and swallow them whole.”

Watanabe recently released footage captured in 2010 from a miniature camera attached to the head of an Adelie penguin.

To learn more:

Adelie penguin.

Adelie penguin. Photo credit: NOAA.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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