Emperor penguins are the biggest penguins in the world– they stand up to four feet tall and weigh up to 100 pounds. As the world’s biggest penguins, emperors get a lot of love, but the second-largest penguins are far from just second-best. King penguins are up to 39 inches tall, but much sleeker than their emperor cousins– king penguins only weigh up to 40 pounds. And their colors are brighter– while emperors have pale yellow feathers at their throats, king penguins have sunset-orange plumage on the sides of their faces and on their necks. Plus, while emperor penguins have black beaks, king penguins’ lower beaks are also bright orange. Most of their coloring, though, is the traditional penguin “tuxedo” of black and white. That coloring helps them hide from predators like seals when they swim: if a predator looks down on them swimming, their dark backs blend in with the dark water below, but if viewed from above, their white bellies blend in with the bright ocean surface.
This coloring helps adult penguins as they avoid predators while swimming for food (they can dive up to a thousand feet!), but their chicks stay on the land. Their feathers are fluffy and brown– a lot different from the sleek evening-wear look that their parents have!
Photo by Liam Quinn