Chinstrap Penguin

Though armed with the "stonebreaker" nickname and a quarrelsome reputation, these gentoo relatives are fading from the Antarctic – probably due to climate change

Antarctic Peninsula

Name: Chinstrap Penguin, Ringed Penguin, Bearded Penguins, Stonecracker Penguins (Pygoscelis antarctica)

Height: Up to 70 cm.

Weight: Up to 6kg.

Location: Antarctica and Sub-Antarctic Islands.

Conservation status: Least Concern.

Diet: Fish, krill, shrimp, squid.

Appearance: Black back, flippers, and cap on head. Black bill and black “strap” running under chin.

How do Chinstrap Penguins feed?

Chinstrap Penguins can swim as far as 80 km offshore every day to forage. Like other penguins, their tightly-packed feathers make them waterproof, they have a thick wall of blubber, and blood vessels in their extremities restrict to redirect heat to essential organs. 

Chinstraps can dive as deep as 70 metres, but usually their dives are fairly shallow compared to some other species of Penguin. The dives usually last less than a minute.

Are Chinstrap Penguins social?

Chinstrap Penguins are very social. During breeding season they’ll gather in enormous colonies on shore. They have many noted forms of communication including flipper and head waving, bowing, preening, and gesturing. 

If arguments arise over nesting space showdowns may include pointing, staring, and even charging if the situation gets really heated.

How fast do Chinstrap Penguins swim?

Chinstrap Penguins can swim at 30km per hour. On land Chinstraps are tobogganers, laying on their bellies and pushing themselves along the ice.

What are Chinstrap Penguin mating rituals like?

Chinstrap Penguins are generally monogamous, returning to the same mate every year. They return to land each year to form colonies, sometimes with over 100,000 pairs of adults. 

In order to first create a pair, a male will beat on his chest with his flippers, raising his head to screech. This action is quite often echoed by other males, and is thought to perhaps act as a way to synchronize the breeding season across a colony. 

The males arrive at the colony about 5 days before the females. They’ll attempt to find the shallow bowl in the rock that the couple used the year before as a nest and will prepare it by adding rocks and even bones to rebuild it. 

The female will lay 2 eggs around the beginning of December, and both parents will take turns incubating them in 6-day shifts. The eggs hatch after about 37 days. They’ll stay with their parents in the nest for up to a month, and then join other chicks in a group known as a crèche.

The crèche helps them keep warm as well as make it harder for predators to pick any one individual out. Once the chicks are about 2 months old they will moult, replacing their fluffy down with their waterproof coating of feathers, at which point they’re ready to make their first foray out to the sea to learn to hunt for themselves. 

Once the breeding season is over the adults will stay onshore an extra 2 weeks to moult, replacing worn feathers with new ones in order to remain waterproof.

How long do Chinstrap Penguins live?

Chinstrap Penguins live for about 20 years.

How many Chinstrap Penguins are there today?

There are an estimated 13,000,000 to 15,000,000 Chinstrap Penguins in the world today.

Do Chinstrap Penguins have any natural predators?

Chinstrap Penguins have to keep a wary eye open for Leopard Seals, Sea Lions, Orcas, and Sharks. Eggs and chicks are vulnerable to other seabirds such as the Skua.

7 Charming Chinstrap Penguin Facts

  • Chinstrap Penguins are decreasing in numbers in the Antarctic Peninsula Region. Scientists are looking towards climate change for the answers.
  • Chinstrap Penguins are referred to as “Stonebreaker Penguins” not because of their collecting of stones for nests, but because their screech is so piercing that it could break stones.
  • Outside of the breeding season Chinstrap Penguins will often congregate on icebergs.
  • Chinstrap Penguins are closely related to Gentoo Penguins.
  • Chinstrap Penguins are one of the most aggressive species of Penguins.
  • Chinstrap Penguins can lose half their weight during the breeding season since they take turns staying with the eggs and chicks for days at a time while the other parent goes off to hunt.
  • Pygoscelis means “rump-legged.”    

Love this article? Share your appreciation:

Related cruises

Cool Deal
Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica
Up to 2550 USD discount

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctica

Meet at least six penguin species!

HDS21-19. A cruise to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia & the Antarctic Peninsula. Visit some of the most beautiful arrays of wildlife on Earth. This journey will introduce you to at least 6 species of penguin and a whole lot of Antarctic fur seals!

m/v Hondius

m/v Hondius

Cruise date:

3 Nov - 23 Nov, 2019

Price:

12500 USD 9950 USD 2550 USD discount

Falkland Islands - South Georgia - Antarctic Peninsula

Meet at least six penguin species!

PLA21-18. A cruise to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia & the Antarctic Peninsula. Visit some of the most beautiful arrays of wildlife on Earth. This journey will introduce you to at least 6 species of penguin and a whole lot of Antarctic fur seals!

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

3 Nov - 23 Nov, 2018

Price:

15300 USD

Antarctic Peninsula - Basecamp

The best activity voyage in Antarctica

OTL22-18. The Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp Ortelius cruise offers you a myriad of ways to explore and enjoy the Antarctic Region. This expedition allows you to hike, snowshoe, kayak, go mountaineering, and even camp out under the Southern Polar skies.

m/v Ortelius

m/v Ortelius

Cruise date:

7 Nov - 18 Nov, 2018

Price:

on request

Weddell Sea - In search of the Emperor Penguin incl. helicopters

Searching for the Elusive Emperor Penguins

OTL23-18. A true expedition, our Weddell Sea cruise sets out to explore the range of the Emperor Penguins near Snow Hill Island. We will visit the area via helicopter and see a variety of other birds and penguins including Adélies and Gentoos.

m/v Ortelius

m/v Ortelius

Cruise date:

18 Nov - 28 Nov, 2018

Price:

11400 USD

Antarctic Peninsula with South Shetland Islands
Up to 1450 USD discount

Antarctic Peninsula with South Shetland Islands

Classic Antarctica including Deception Island

PLA22-18. This Antarctic Peninsula and South Shetland Islands cruise delivers you into a landscape of dark rugged rock, pure white snow, and a fantastic variety of wildlife. Come say hello to whales, seals, and thousands of penguins.

m/v Plancius

m/v Plancius

Cruise date:

23 Nov - 3 Dec, 2018

Price:

9200 USD