FALKLAND ISLANDS - V. Gentoo Penguin
Views: 1558125.1.2011 23:38:12
Gentoo - running penguin.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua)- running.

Gentoo seemed to be a sort of extra draft for the photo of "main" species of penguin on the Falkland Islands for us. He is a lot smaller than the King Penguin, it is not dramatically coloured, it hasn't got a rebel visage of a Rockhopper, nor it digs burrows as Magellanic Penguin. It heehaws as a donkey, but that can be heard from the pictures only with a great difficulty. Moreover I think that the Magellanic Penguin heehaws at its burrows even more like a donkey and louder than the Gentoo. The Czech name, "donkey penguin" is probably taken from German where they call it Eselspinguin.
So what to do about it?

Tučňák oslí (Pygoscelis papua) - heehawing.

I thought what is its significant difference from the other penguin species of the Falklands (he looks different, of course), and I would say - active, running penguin. And maybe there is something else the other penguins don't have. I don't want to be accused of anthropomorphism, but I'm going to say it: disarming gullibility. You consider.

I must confess, it wasn't my idea. When I watched Nigel Marven's series of the Falkland's Penguins at BBC, as a preparation for our journey, I saw him doing this:
There is a time when you walk, very carefully, of course, to stop a few steps away from an imaginary edge of a colony of Gentoos, so the penguins wouldn't start moving backwards. And you sit down (into excrements, of course). The slightly disturbed edge of the colony will settle down completely after a second, the adults, if they moved, are back in their places, without a stir and often with closed eyes. The young are running now and then to their parents who brought them the food. Then you lay down, parallel to the colony, you relax, take in the atmosphere and the smell of the colony. After few minutes while you are still you will turn your head towards the colony. And see, right beside you, like weird sisters huddled around a baby there stand the penguins. Six, ten. Mostly they are pubescent youngsters, standing at arm's length from you and staring. Few adults a little way further came to "control situation". Experience! These are the wildlife surprises.
It disarmed me completely, I didn't care about the photos anymore and eventually I was choking with laughter. After that the penguins retreated. I would never expect such a behaviour from animals in 21st century.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) - sleeping.

With a colony of Gentoo penguins you have to be even more careful than with colonies of other species, though. Gentoos are not big fighters and they solve a pressure by leaving the nest, which is then more than likely to be exposed to predators. Especially Skuas are real champions in how to gain the most from a situation. And they wouldn't skip any opportunity to get food.
What Nigel also showed in his programme was how the young Gentoos were running after him, maybe if he wouldn't have had some beautifully suckled squid stuff in his mouth. This takes me to the first significant feature of Gentoos. Running.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) - running.

That makes it really different form the others. Gentoo colony is a little bit more loose (distance between "nests" being circa 1m in Antarctic up to 2m due north). The reason for this might be the need of space for "hungry hunts". The adults returning from a hunt with food are attacked by their offspring to give the food up. But to feed always only one youngster and the other to come short, that is not an effective way. So it seems that the adults check the level of hunger of their youngsters (there's no point to feed already stuffed youngster when its sibling is hungry), they do a "test" - the momentarily better agility of one or another youngster is the indicator of the biggest zest for life (measured by appetite for squid and krill stuff).
So there can be seen running groups forming threes at the beginning - adult plus two youngsters and later on - adult plus one youngster (the more stuffed the slower), how they scoot through the colony.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) - running.

The Gentoo Penguin is not so much known as the Emperor Penguin or the Royal Penguin, so I'm going to present some basic and some interesting facts here.
Gentoos are approximately 70cm tall, and around 5kg weight. Their size grows according to the decreasing geographical latitude, so they are bigger due north. Generally the time and duration of nesting is highly dependent on the temperature of water near the colony and it differs a lot, the Falklands being an exception to that. The female lays usually two equal eggs in three days time, they hatch after 35 days, and the adults take turns in feeding and protecting the hatchlings for approximately 25 days. After this time the parents stop guarding their young, but they continue to feed them for another two months or so.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) - craving - feeding.

Gentoo can dive to the depth of 150m and the interesting thing is that the depth of their dive increases during the day, the deepest dive happening at noon. The average travelling speed in the water is around 4.5 kmph. In comparison to other penguin species the population of the Gentoo Penguin is rather small, it counts about 250 - 300 000 individuals, from which 100 000 can be found on the Falklands. Based loosely on Remy Marion's Penguins - A Worldwide Guide.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) - wading.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis papua) - heehawing.

Bohdan Němec, Pilsen(CZ), January 2011

Translation from czech original version by Tereza Němcová: gwareth@seznam.cz

Comments on article 'FALKLAND ISLANDS - V. Gentoo Penguin'
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28.10.2014 20:09:23
Radek Beňo
Pokud se s tučňákem oslím chcete setkat naživo, navštivte v Dubaji obchodní dům Mall of Emirates, kde si můžete zaplatit setkání s těmito tučňáky a tučňáky císařskými. Je to sice drahá záležitost, ale stojí za to...
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