The stereotypical penguin in a "tuxedo," Adelie penguins are the smallest penguins in Antarctica. Named after the wife of a French explorer, the Adelie penguins stand 28" tall. Over 2.5 million breeding pairs live in the Antarctic. Their main predator is the leopard seal, which often waits for a penguin, like this young Adelie, to jump into the water. The penguins feed mainly on krill, a tiny crustacean. In fact, scientists use the Adelie as an indicator species to monitor the abundance of krill, so important to the web of Antarctic life.
Adelie penguins build their nests of pebbles on the rocky beaches of Antarctica. Two greenish-white eggs are usually laid in early November. Males and females take turns incubating the eggs, however, the female returns to the sea first, leaving the male to stand alone for up to ten days while she feeds. After the chicks hatch, they are brooded closely by their parents for the first two to three weeks. The parents take turns going to sea to forage for their growing young. As they grow, the chicks develop a thick downy gray coat then molt into their black & white plumage. This young bird jumping off the ice has not yet attained his adult feathering.
During the icy dark winters, the Adelie penguins live out at sea & on the pack ice.