Types of Penguins


Types of Penguins

Types of Penguins: Penguins are flightless aquatic birds of the Bird Family Spheniscidae. These birds are highly adapted to living in the cold waters and are almost exclusively found in the southern hemisphere. Because of this, penguins have developed thick counter-shaded white and black plumage and turned their forelimbs (wings) into flippers.

Almost all types of Penguins are found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere except one kind of penguin – Galapagos penguin, which interestingly lives in the hot temperature equator region.

Penguins are remarkably adapted for life in water, and their wings were evolved into flippers for swimming. The ocean creatures such as squid, krill fish and other forms of sea life are the primary food source for penguins.

Interestingly enough, no penguin species are found in the northern hemisphere. Overall, there are about 18 known species of penguins in the world. Let’s explore all types of penguins below:

Penguin Life Cycle
Penguin Life Cycle (Source: Wikimedia)

Types of Penguins

Adelie Penguins

Adélie Penguin (Pygoscelis Adeliae)

Adelie penguins are the smallest and most common penguin species in the Antarctic region. Learn their diet, anatomy, habitat, predators, fun & interesting facts, sound call, and an excellent video documentary.
African Penguin

African Penguin (Spheniscus Demersus)

The African penguin is a medium-sized penguin that is believed to be the first species of penguin that was ever discovered. Learn African penguin facts, anatomy, habitat, diet, predators, life-span, sound call, and more.
Chinstrap Penguin

Chinstrap Penguins (Pygoscelis antarcticus)

Endemic to the rocky islands in Antarctica, the Chinstrap penguin is considered as one of the world's smallest and most easily identifiable penguin species.

Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes Forsteri)

Emperor Penguin

Considered as the largest among all penguin species, the Emperor penguin is often regarded as the “classic” image that people imagine when they read about or hear the word “penguin“.

  • An average Emperor penguin can reach up to 4 feet high and weigh up to 88 pounds!
  • This penguin species is sometimes confused with the King penguin species because of their slight resemblance in terms of physical appearance.
  • However, their distribution around the continent is distinct: Emperor penguins live in the South while King penguins are found in the sub-Antarctic.

Erect-Crested Penguin (Eudyptes Sclateri)

Erect Crested Penguin

Erect-crested penguins are considered to be one of the largest species of crested penguins. And like other crested penguins, members of this species bear the distinguishing feature of a yellow feather stripe above their eyes that extends from their bills.

  • Unlike other species of crested penguins, the Erect-crested penguin can move this yellow crest feathers.
  • Biologists haven’t fully studied this species of penguins yet. They live in large colonies in the rocky terrain (Bounty and Antipodes Islands) and spends their winters at ocean.
  • The population of Erect-chest penguins are declining due to its smaller breeding range. The IUCN listed this penguin as endangered on the IUCN red list.

Fiordland Penguin (Eudyptes Pachyrhynchus)

Fiordland Penguin

Fiordland Crested penguins, or simply Fiordland penguins are penguins endemic to the temperate rainforests of New Zealand. These penguins are named after Fiordland, a region in the westernmost of South Island, New Zealand.

  • Like the Snares penguin, these penguins have a thick stripe of yellow feathers located above their eyes and extends up to the back of their head.

Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus Mendiculus)

Galapagos Penguin

As its name suggests, the Galapagos penguin is the only penguin species endemic to Galapagos Islands and the north equator. As such, this is the only known penguin species that live further north.

  • Penguins of this species have an overall black-greyish plumage and the presence of two black bands that run across their chest.
  • This penguin species is known to be the world’s third smallest penguin.

Gentoo Penguin (Pygoscelis Papua)

Gentoo Penguin

Gentoo penguins are large sized penguins that are characterized by having distinctive red-orange beaks, slightly orange feet, and white feather caps.

  • Regarding size, Gentoo penguins are the third largest penguins. They can reach up to 30 inches high and weigh about 12 pounds.
  • While these penguins prefer frozen habitats, they can also thrive in ice-free ones like coastal plains and valleys.

Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus Humboldt)

Humboldt Penguin

Humboldt penguins got their name from the cold water current that is coming from the Antarctic and flows to South America (the place itself got its name from the German scientist Friedrich Humboldt).

  • Humboldt penguins have medium sized bodies, large heads, dominantly black plumage, and a distinct black band around their chests.

King Penguin (Aptenodytes Patagonicus)

King Penguin

Next, to Emperor penguins, King penguins ranked as the second largest penguins in the world. Aside from that, King penguins are known to be excellent in diving and can reach as deep as 300 meters below.

  • One notable feature of the King penguin is a gold-orange patch located on both sides of its neck. This patch gradually becomes lighter orange in its upper chest.
  • This penguin species is one of the few birds that do not use nests for incubating their eggs. Instead, King penguins place their eggs under their bellies on top of their feet.

Little Blue Penguin (Eudyptula Minor)

Little Blue Penguin

Little Blue penguins, also called as Fairy penguins are the smallest known species of penguins. They are so small that adults can only weigh up to 2.6 pounds!

  • These penguins have a unique appearance due to their bright bluish-grey feather color (hence the name).
  • Interestingly, young Little Blue penguins are white and brown in color that gradually becomes blue as they become adults.

Macaroni Penguin (Eudyptes Chrysolophus)

Macaroni Penguin

Macaroni penguins are large species of crested penguins that inhabit the sub-Antarctic regions. With a population of about 18 million, these penguins are considered to be the most numerous among all penguin species.

  • Regarding size, these penguins are also considered as one of the largest and heaviest. An average adult Macaroni penguin can reach up to 28 inches high and weigh about 12 pounds.

Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus Magellanicus)

Magellanic Penguin

The Magellanic penguin is a species of penguin that is native to the Falkland Islands and South America. These penguins got their name from Ferdinand Magellan, the explorer who first discovered it in 1519.

  • Magellanic penguins have distinct white bands over their eyes and black bands on their breasts and bellies.
  • Normally, these penguins breed in underground burrows. However, when digging is not possible, they simply breed under the bushes.

Northern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes Moseleyi)

Northern Rockhopper Penguin

Rockhopper penguins are previously classified as a single species. However, due to more extensive analyses, this single taxon has been split into two species: the Northern Rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes moseleyi) and the Southern Rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome).

  • The former is characterized by having a slightly longer and more prominent yellow stripe of feathers above its eyes. In addition to that, its body is smaller and appears to have a greyish plumage color.

Royal Penguin (Eudyptes Schlegeli)

Royal Penguin

The next penguin on this list is the Royal penguin that is often characterized as the most beautiful penguin species. The Royal penguin has an orange-pink short and thick beak that has a callus on both sides of the base.

  • The Royal penguin is widely distributed among the islands of Bishop, Clerk, and Macquarie Islands in Australia, Falkland Islands, South Sandwich Islands, and the Falkland Islands.

Snares Penguin (Eudyptes Robustus)

Snares Penguin

Native to the Snares Islands, the Snare penguin Eudyptes robustus is pretty much very similar to the Fiordland penguin.

  • Regarding physical appearance, this penguin species is characterized by having an upward yellow facial stripe of a feather that extends up to its bill, crest feather plumes, and a cone-shaped bill.
  • This species of penguin is considered to be the most restricted penguin in term of its distribution because the range of its breeding is only restricted to the Snares group.

Southern Rockhopper Penguin (Eudyptes Chrysocome)

Southern Rockhopper Penguin

Found in the islands of Chile, New Zealand, and some parts of North Antarctica, Southern Rockhopper penguins appear to be peculiar because they tend to bound instead waddling like what other species of penguins do.

  • Southern Rockhopper penguins are characterized by their distinguishable spiky stripe of yellow and black feathers on the top of their heads.
  • The Eastern Rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes filholi), another type of Rockhopper penguin, is often considered by scientists to be a mere subspecies of the Southern Rockhopper and not a sole species per se.

Yellow-Eyed Penguin (Megadyptes Antipodes)

Yellow Eyed Penguin

Last but not the least is the Yellow-eyed penguin that is believed to be the rarest of all penguin species. This penguin species is distributed in the northern parts of the Antarctic oceans, particularly in the islands of Auckland, Campbell, and Stewart in New Zealand.

  • As its name suggests, the Yellow-eyed penguin is characterized by its very prominent yellow-colored eyes and yellow bands around its eyes and head.

At present, penguins are threatened by anthropogenic activities like pollution and climate change. Aside from that, the presence of exotic species like dogs and cats tend to carry illnesses that can be passed on to penguins.

If these things continue, the population of penguins might decline or completely disappear — a scenario that could happen in the next 40 years.

Cite This Page

BioExplorer.net. (2021, June 19). Types of Penguins. Bio Explorer. https://www.bioexplorer.net/types-of-penguins/.
BioExplorer.net. "Types of Penguins" Bio Explorer, 19 June 2021, https://www.bioexplorer.net/types-of-penguins/.
BioExplorer.net. "Types of Penguins" Bio Explorer, June 19 2021. https://www.bioexplorer.net/types-of-penguins/.


  • All images are from public domains under the creative commons license.
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  • “Macaroni Penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus) | Beauty of Birds”. Accessed December 01, 2017. Link.



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