A record number of penguins have crossed the ocean side at Penguin Parade on Phillip Island in Australia.
Phillip Island, situated off Australia’s southern coast, is known for its Penguin Parade at Summerland beach. Observers gather daily to sunset to watch the adorable little penguins come shore-wards in groups.
“We had the highest number of penguins crossing last week with 5,219 penguins crossing our Penguin Parade beach within the 50 minutes of the count, which is amazing,” said Phillip Island Nature Parks research officer Paula Wasiak.
The past record just happened only a few days prior and was a little more than 4,500 penguins.
“What’s really unique about these record-breaking nights is that they’re happening now,” says Wasiak. “Usually, we have record-breaking nights when the penguins are at the peak of their breeding season, so around November and December.”
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Peak numbers in the spring and summer are usually around 2,500 birds.
Wasiak believes the rise in numbers is because of the protection efforts and “excellent feeding conditions”
Penguins are flightless birds, while other birds have wings for flying, penguins use their wings more like flippers to help them swim in water. Most penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere, and the Galapagos Penguin is the only penguin species that travels north of the equator in the wild.
Large penguin groups can be located in countries such as Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Chile, and South Africa. However, unlike our favorite stories, penguins do not live at the North Pole.
Penguins eat quite a large range of fish and other sea life that they catch underwater, and can even drink the sea water! (Seems food and especially drink is not short for them!) They also spend about half their time under water and the other half on land. Of all the penguin species, the Emperor Penguin is the tallest of them all, reaching about 47 inches in height. The Emperors can stay underwater for about 20 minutes at a time, and often huddle together to keep warm in the ice-cold temperatures of Antarctica.
The second largest penguin species goes to the King Penguins who have four layers of feathers to help keep them warm on sub-antarctic islands where they migrate to breed. We’ve also got Crested penguins, who are known for their yellow crests and red bills and eyes. Little Blue Penguins which are the smallest species of penguin, coming in around 13 inches in height, and Chinstrap Penguins who get their name from the skinny black band located beneath their head. Sometimes, it looks like they’re wearing a black helmet, which could be useful since they’re considered the most aggressive penguin of all.
Penguins have no natural land predators which comes as no surprise since giant penguins once roamed the earth. The ancestors of the modern penguins could have been some odd 6.5 feet tall and weighed around 220 pounds! Fossils found in Antarctica seem to hint that there were once giant penguins on earth around 37 million years ago. Even at that size, I’d imagine them still being cuddly, soft, and cute – but I’d definitely keep my distance.