Emperor Penguin

Aptenodytes forsteri Order: Sphenisciformes Family: Spheniscidae (Penguins)
Aptenodytes forsteri Order: Sphenisciformes Family: Spheniscidae (Penguins)

I’ve never been anywhere near the range of any penguins. This species has two records in the Guinness Book of World Records:

Emperor Penguin: Deepest dive by a bird. The greatest depth accurately measured for any bird is 564 metres (1,850 feet) by an emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) off eastern Antarctica. The study followed 93 penguins fitted with time-depth recorders during the breeding season of three different years (1988, 1993–94) and the results were published in the journal Polar Biology on 19 July 2006.

A total of 137,364 individual dives were recorded over the course of the three-year study. Of these, only 0.2% exceeded 400 metres (1,312 feet) and, interestingly, of the 12 dives that surpassed 500 metres (1,640 feet), all were performed by the same penguin.

The study was a collaboration between the Australian Antarctic Division and Phillip Island Nature Park (both Australia).

The longest-lasting dive during this study was 21.8 minutes. However, a more recent paper published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series on 12 April 2018 documents an emperor penguin that remained underwater for 32.2 minutes.


Emperor Penguin: Lowest temperature endured by a bird. During a study of the emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) at a breeding colony in Pointe Géologie, Terre Adélie, Antarctica, on 4–29 June 2008, the average air temperature recorded was -17.6 degrees Celsius (0.32 degrees Fahrenheit); the mean temperature of the ice, meanwhile, was -29.1 degrees Celsius (-20.3 degrees Fahrenheit). During three days of this study, the air temperature dipped below -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit), at which point the sky and ice temperatures over-ranged beyond the recording capabilities of the camera equipment, exceeding -45 degrees Celsius (-49 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s widely acknowledged that emperor penguins have to occasionally endure air temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius (-40 degrees Fahrenheit) and beyond, as well as wind gusts that can reach in excess of 150 kilometres (90 miles) per hour.

Tragically, no one submitting entries to the Guinness Book noticed the Black-capped Chickadees calling and singing away in Tower, Minnesota, on 2 February 1996 when the state’s temperature record was broken, the official thermometer reading -60º F.

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