Oct 24, 2007

Beautiful gathering of King Penguins

Take a look at the image. It shows more than 10,000 King Penguins standing shoulder to shoulder at St Andrew's bay on the island of South Georgia. Most of them are gathering there to breed. This is one of the most extraordinary sights, seen in the nature.

The King Penguins are one of the interesting creatures on earth. They lay their eggs in late November, with a peak around mid-December. Both male and female of each mating couple incubates the egg. The male takes the first incubation shift of two weeks, then the female takes the next fortnight, after which they swap every three or four days. When incubating they stand rooted to the spot just a flipper's length from the next one.

But it's not just the urge to breed which impels penguins to come ashore at certain times of the year — sometimes they need to change their clothes.

Feathers wear out and lose their insulating properties, so their waterproof suits must be replaced. After about 12 days of moulting on shore, they have lost virtually all their vibrant plumage and stand almost naked. Slowly, their new feathers appear and after 30 days they are ready to go back into the water — with a brand-new suit.

The new outfit helps in finding a new mate the following year, because the divorce rate is high among them! Link


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