King Penguin Colony (Aptenodytes patagonicus)
St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia Island
It is difficult to describe the mind boggling sight of the King Penguin colony at St. Andrews Bay on South Georgia Island; the largest King Penguin colony on the planet and home to an estimated 300,000 birds. To reach the colony, it was necessary to trek across a landscape littered with aggressive fur seals and wade through a fast flowing glacial meltwater stream. A short hike up a hill led to the incredible view you see here and only a partial view of the entire colony!
The king penguin is the second largest penguin in the world, exceeded in size solely by its closest relative, the emperor penguin. The downy, brown chicks are so different in appearance to the adult king penguins that early explorers described them as an entirely different species, the ‘woolly penguin’. They were also known as “Oakum Boys” by whalers as they closely resembled “Oakum”, a tarred fiber used in their boats. While widely spread in the southern ocean you’ll never find a king penguin on pack ice, that is left to its close relative the emperor penguin. King penguins are one of the few birds that do not build nests; eggs are incubated under the belly on top of their feet.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the king penguin was ruthlessly hunted for oil, blubber, eggs and skins. Owing to its gregarious nature at breeding colonies, the king penguin was an extremely easy target for hunters, with the result that some colonies were completely exterminated. Fortunately, following the banning of commercial hunting, the king penguin population has rebounded, with most breeding locations being once again home to large, secure colonies. With increased human activity around the sub-Antarctic islands, there is an increasing risk of the introduction of a disease, pest or predator that could do swift harm to a dense breeding population
Aptenodytes patagonicusCheesemans Ecology SafarisColonyKing PenguinsNatureOakum BoysSouth GeorgiaSouthern OceanSt. Andrew's BayWildlifeBirdsAvifauna