5 Quick Facts About Penguins

a group of penguins walking in a rocky cold looking landscape

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Penguins are aquatic birds that cannot fly. Most penguin species are native to the southern hemisphere including Antarctica, South Africa, Chile, Peru, New Zealand, Australia, and the Galapagos Islands. No penguins live at the north pole.

The Galapagos islands straddle the equator so there are islands in both the northern and southern hemisphere. The Galapagos penguins are the only penguin species to live in the northern hemisphere.

There is debate about how many penguin species there currently are, whether some are a separate species or if they are just a subspecies. There are between 17 and 20 penguin species currently living.

Here are 5 more facts about penguins:

What is a group of penguins called?

A group of penguins in the water is called a “raft” and a group of penguins on land is called a “waddle.”

Diving penguins

The deepest penguin dive recorded was an emperor penguin that dove 565 meters deep or 1,854 feet! Most penguins don’t go deeper than 10 meters (32 feet).

Penguin Flippers

Instead of having wings like other birds have for flying, a penguin’s wings are actually flippers so they can swim fast underwater. The fastest penguin species can swim up to 22 mph (35 km/h). Their flippers have small densely packed feathers to help keep them warm.


Most penguins spend 75% of their time at sea and return to land to reproduce. Many return to the same breeding grounds every year and form rookeries that can sometimes include thousands of penguins. A rookery is where a penguin will find a mate, create a nest, and raise their chicks. Penguins each have individual calls so they can identify their mate and their chicks among the thousands of other penguins in the rookery.

Black and White

All penguins are black and white with black backs and wings and a white front. This is for camouflage! When penguins are swimming and seen from above, you only see their black backs and it helps them blend in with the deep, dark water that is below. When a penguin is seen from below, you see their white front which helps them blend in with the bright sky above and the shiny water surface.

And I will leave you with this cute video of baby emperor penguins!

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