Sea Life

A Guide to the Different Types of Penguins

Penguins are adorable creatures with remarkable swimming abilities. Though at first glance people assume that all penguins are similar, however, that’s not true. There is a total of 6 genera in which penguins are divided and a total of 21 species. Let’s scan through all these species to find out the different types of penguins you can come across.

A Guide To The Different Types Of Penguins

1: King Penguin

Scientific name: Aptenodytes patagonicus

King penguins are native of the Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic regions, South Georgia, and the islands nearby. Their heads, throat, and chin is black in color with orange patches on them. The distinct orange markings on the upper chest and head differentiate them from the Emperor penguins. They are 35-37 inches in size and weigh around 30-35 pounds.

King Penguin

2: Emperor Penguin

Scientific name: Aptenodytes forsteri

Emperor penguins are native to the area of Antarctic Mainland. They have white and black bodies which are equipped with stiff wings, black in color. They have streamlined bodies with the short and thick neck which is black in color, but a patch of yellow color run through their head to chest. The emperor penguins are 45 inches in size and weigh around 77-88 lbs.

Emperor Penguin

3: Adelie Penguin

Scientific name: Pygoscelis adeliae

Adelie penguins are native to mainland Antarctica. They have a remarkable appearance as they have tuxedo looks because of their black head and back with white chests and bellies. They have bright round rings around their eyes, which is their notable feature. Their size is as much as 28 inches and they can weigh around 13 lbs.

Adelie Penguin

4: Chinstrap Penguin

Scientific name: Pygoscelis antarcticus

Chinstrap penguin is native to the regions of Chile, Antarctica, and the Argentina Falkland islands. They have a black dorsal side and a white ventral side. They can be identified by the black band present under their heads, appearing like a helmet on their bodies. They can grow upto 28 inches and are 14 lbs in weight.

Chinstrap Penguin

5: Gentoo Penguin

Scientific name: Pygoscelis papua

Gentoo penguins are native to Antarctica, Georgia, and the Falkland Islands. They have a black upperside and head with white bellies, just like most penguins. But their notable feature is their orange-red feet and bills and the black stripes on the back of their heads. They can grow upto 29-35 inches and weigh around 18 lbs.

Gentoo Penguin

6: Little Penguin

Scientific name: Eudyptula minor

Little penguins are native to New Zealand and Australia only. Their upper bodies are blue-grey or slate blue in color, while the ventral side of the bodies is white in color. Their feet are pale pink in color while their bills are black in color. They are known as the world’s smallest penguins with a size of 13.7 inches and a weight of 2.6 pounds.

Little Penguin

7: Australian Little Penguin

Scientific name: Eudyptula novaehollandiae

As the name indicates, the Australian little penguins are native to Southern Australia. The upper side of their bodies is blue in color which converts into white as it fades toward their bellies. The flippers present on their bodies for swimming are blue in color while their feet are pink with black soles. They can grow upto 12-13 inches in height and weigh around 3.3 lbs.

Australian Little Penguin

8: Magellanic Penguin

Scientific name: Spheniscus magellanicus

The Magellanic penguins are native to the coasts of Chile and Argentina. Their bodies are black and white in color but they have a notable white band running from around their eyes to the end of the belly, which can help in their identification. They can grow about 28 inches while weighing around 9-10 pounds.

Magellanic Penguin

9: Humboldt Penguin

Scientific name: Spheniscus humboldti

Humboldt penguins are native and can only be found on the Pacific coast of South America. The bodies of Humboldt penguins are blackish-gray from the upper side and have a horseshoe-shaped mark on their chest which is black in color. They can grow upto 26-28 inches while weighing 11 lbs.

Humboldt Penguin

10: Galapagos Penguin

Scientific name: Spheniscus mendiculus

Galapagos penguins are native to the Galapagos islands where they strive and breed all year. The bodies of Galapagos penguins also have a horseshoe-shaped marking on their chest while their bodies are black on the dorsal side and white on the ventral side. However, the markings on their bellies are thinner than the other penguins from their genus. They are tall with a height of 15-17 inches and weigh around 3-5 lbs.

Galapagos Penguin

11: African Penguin

Scientific name: Spheniscus demersus

African penguins are native to Africa and cannot be found anywhere else in the world. They have a pattern of black spots on their chest and a black stripe, which give them a unique appearance. There are pink glands right above their eyes and their feet are black in color. They are 26-27 inches in size and weigh around 4-11 lbs. Their remarkable feature is the donkey-like sounds that they produce, that’s why they are also named “Jackass penguins”.

African Penguin

12: Yellow-Eyed Penguin

Scientific name: Megadyptes antipodes

Yellow-eyed penguins are native to the Campbell islands, New Zealand, Foveaux Strait, and Auckland. They have pale-yellow colored eyes, thus the name. A yellow band runs right from their eyes to the back of their head, which is their notable feature. In terms of size, they can grow upto 26-30 inches and can weigh around 11-13 lbs.

Yellow-eyed Penguin

13: Fiordland Penguin

Scientific name: Eudyptes pachyrhynchus

Fiordland penguins are native to Solander Island and New Zealand. The presence of yellow plumes right around the sides of their head is their notable feature. Other than that, the upper part of their bodies is dark bluish, or gray in color, while the underside of the bodies is white. There is a yellow eyebrow stripe that extends right from the eye to the neck.  They can grow upto 24-28 inches and weigh around 5-13 lbs.

Fiordland Penguin

14: Snares Penguin

Scientific name: Eudyptes robustus

Snares penguins are native to the south of New Zealand. Like other penguins, they also have black upper parts and white underparts. They have notable dull red eyes and a yellow crest like other penguins of the same genus right above their eyes. The size of a Snares penguin is 25 inches and its weight is 6-7 lbs.

Snares Penguin

15: Erect-Crested Penguin

Scientific name: Eudyptes sclateri

Erect-crested penguins are native to New Zealand only. The upper parts of their bodies are bluish-black in color while white coloration can be seen on the underside. The short but erect crest is formed of a yellow stripe, extending over the eyes, thus the name. The size of their bodies is 25 inches and they weigh 6-8 lbs.

Erect-Crested Penguin

16: Southern Rockhopper Penguin

Scientific name: Eudyptes chrysocome

Southern Rockhopper penguins are native to the McDonald Islands, Heard Island, and Macquire island. Their bodies are black and white while their beaks are orange in color and their eyebrows are yellow-bright color. The size of the southern rockhopper is 21.7 inches and its weight is 5.5 pounds.

Southern Rockhopper Penguin

17: Northern Rockhopper Penguin

Scientific name: Eudyptes moseleyi

The Northern Rockhopper penguins are native to the Southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans. They are also called Moseley’s penguins. They have red eyes and bright-yellow colored eyebrows. The upper side of their bodies is slate-gray in color while the underpart is white in color. They are 21.7 inches in length and weigh upto 5.5 lbs.

Northern Rockhopper Penguin

18: Royal Penguin

Scientific name: Eudyptes schlegeli

Royal penguins are native to Campbell islands and Macquire. They are quite easy to spot as they have a yellow crest on their black and white bodies. However, their feet are pink in color having brown claws, which also tell them apart from other penguins. The size of the royal penguin is 26-30 inches while its weight is 18 lbs.

Royal Penguin

19: Macaroni Penguin

Scientific name: Eudyptes chrysolophus

Macaroni penguins are native to Australia, New Zealand, the Falkland Islands, and South Africa. The dorsal side of their bodies including flippers is black while the ventral is white. They can be identified by a yellow crest on their head and their orange beak. The size of macaroni penguins is 28 inches and their weight is 14 lbs only.

Macaroni Penguin

The Bottom Line

There is a total of 18 species of penguins including emperor penguins, king penguins, royal penguins, gentoo penguins, Adelie penguins, and macaroni penguins. The majority of these penguins are native to Antarctica and have some remarkable features that can be used for their identification.

About the author

Yumna Ahmad

An experienced content writer, photographer, and avid reader amazed by the sea world and its creatures. I am lettin people become fascinated with the ocean planet through my writings.