Gentoo penguin
© Jono Handley

Seabird Species


Almost able to “fly” under the water, some of these charismatic species can dive to hundreds of meters

Penguins (family Spheniscidae) are a group of 18 species of flightless birds distributed almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere – with the Galápagos Penguin being the only species whose range extends into the Northern Hemisphere.  

Some species are found in extremely cold climates, such as Antarctica, but most species are found in the temperate zone.  

There is a large range in size of these species, with the Emperor Penguin standing at 1.2m tall, while the Little Penguin is a quarter of the size at only 0.3m tall. Most penguins forage in pelagic waters and typically prey on either small crustaceans (e.g. krill), fish or squid while diving underwater. 

In The Seabird Tracking Database:
Colonies: 67
Tracks: 3408
Points: 2213922
Data range: 1994 – 2021
Data holders: 48
Species Tracked

Spotlight species: Emperor Penguin

King penguin
© Eric J. Woelher

The Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) prefers cold water, ideally  –35oC! This species has evolved to rear its chicks during the long dark days of the Antarctic winterThis adaptation to sub-zero conditions is also one of the reasons why climate change and warming Antarctic temperatures are threatening population numbers of Emperor Penguins. A proposed network of marine protected areas around Antarctica could provide some respite for the species, particularly in those places where multiple pressures impact the penguins. 

Please view this page on a desktop computer to see our interactive species colony map.

Tracked colonies of Penguins

Use the map below to explore seabird colonies around the world.

Thanks to our data contributors: Adrian Schiavini; Akinori Takahashi; Andre Chiaradia; Andrea Raya Rey; Andy Lowther; Antje Steinfurth; Azwianewi Makhado; Cara-Paige Green; Charles-Andre Bost; Christina Hagen; David Thompson; Falklands Conservation; Harley Schinagl; Jefferson Hinke; Jeong-Hoon Kim; Juan F. Masello; Kate J Campbell; Katrin Ludynia; Klemens Puetz; Malgorzata Korczak-Abshire; Mercedes Santos; Mike Dunn/BAS; Nobuo Kokubun; Norman Ratcliffe/BAS; P. Dee Boersma; Peter Ryan; Petra Quillfeldt; Phil Trathan/BAS; Pierre Pistorius; Richard Sherley; Ross Wanless; Taryn Morris; Wayne Trivelpiece; Won Young Lee