African penguin

Scientific name :
Spheniscus demersus
Class :
Birds
Order :
Sphenisciformes
Family :
Spheniscidae

The African penguin, like all penguins, is a seabird characterised by its adaptability to the aquatic environment. It is an excellent swimmer and the fastest of all seabirds underwater. It can attain speeds of 50 km an hour, making it a highly successful predator of fish. Although it can move about easily and with great agility on land standing upright, it is unable to fly. The feathers on its back and front are flattened and covered in down at the base, right against the animal’s skin. To maintain body temperature, a small pocket of air is trapped by its plumage, and bubbles can be seen escaping to the surface when it dives. African penguins can remain under water for 2 to 3 minutes.

 

Geographic distribution of the African penguin

African penguins are found in South Africa.

 

The African penguin’s nest

African penguins nest on sandy ground, sometimes in no more than a small hollow but usually in a proper den at the bottom of which they shelter from the heat of the sun. Couples take turn brooding. Both parents provide food for their young by regurgitating the food contained in their stomach. Chicks remain together in collective nurseries, and their parents can tell their own offspring apart from all the others by their unique call.

Did you know?

Penguins are not to be confused with razorbills. They may be similar in appearance as they display the same colours and are both seabirds, but razorbills can fly. Penguins are only found in the southern hemisphere, while razorbills live in the northern hemisphere.
Coastal areas.
Size: 65 cm
Weight: 3 kg.
Piscivorous
Longevity: 20 years.
Incubation: 28 to 40 days
Lays: 1 to 2 eggs
Sexual maturity: 3 to 4 years.
European protection programme

Les programmes européens EEP d'élevage et de conservation d'espèces menacées sont apparus en 1985. Un tel programme a pour but d'encourager, de surveiller... Find out more

Conservation status

stable menacé très menacé

Image name
Educational Presentation Find out more