Couldn't find element LayerAd

Error finding content

Antarctic Postcard from the Field: Penguin Anomalies - Windows to the Universe

Shop Windows to the Universe

Our Glaciers: Then and Now activity kit helps you see the changes taking place in glaciers around the world. See all our activity kits and classroom activities.

    Image Courtesy of Jean Pennycook


Beauford Island, Antarctica, December 15, 2008

Penguin Anomalies

There are 5 million Adelie Penguins in Antarctica, and the vast majority of them are the black and white tuxedo wearing cuties you know and love. But every once in a while we find color differences. In a much larger colony than the one at Cape Royds, we saw these different and beautiful expressions of the genetic variation in Adelies. All were adults and on nests, so the color and feather differences do not seem to effect their ability to mature and reproduce. In the past we have seen all black penguins and albinos, but not today. We are on Beauford Island and with almost 250,000 penguins we are bound to see a few different ones.

To learn more about Adelie Penguins, go to Penguin Science and Life in the Polar Regions.

Go to the next postcard

Postcards from the Field: Adelie Penguins 2008

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Life in the Polar Regions: Animals, Plants, and Others in Extreme Environments

All sorts of living things call Earth’s polar regions home – from tiny lichens encrusting the rocky landscapes of the Arctic tundra to huge blue whales swimming through the frigid waters of the Southern...more

Spring Is Here

It is spring here, although you wouldn't know it. Temperatures are -10°C to -13°C, and in every direction all you see is ice and snow. But we know this is spring for Antarctica because the Sun is up. The...more

Return to Royds

This year the penguins arrived early. Our remote camera recorded the first ones Oct 21, a full week earlier than last year. The sea ice edge is 50 miles away so their walk is much further than last season,...more

Penguin Weather Vanes

Normally when I come down to the colony on my daily rounds the penguins are sitting every which way on their nests. Some face each other, some face away from each other, some face inwards, some outwards,...more

Baby Come Back.

The colony is very quiet now, the nesting groups of penguins are mostly males patiently keeping the 2 eggs warm while the females are out foraging for food. This year the sea ice edge, where the females...more

"The Birds" of Royds

Penguins aren't the only ones that come to Cape Royds to raise their chicks. The South Polar Skua makes its home here during the same time because the pickings are easy. Penguin eggs and chicks fall prey...more

Cave Day

This cave is near the end of an Ice Tongue, a huge part of a glacier that has moved off the land and is floating in the water. Because the ocean is still frozen, we can get close to the cave entrance and...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF