The largest and heaviest of the penguin species, majestic Emperors might seem fairly hardy. The adult males stand 45 inches, on average, and those who've had the privilege of seeing these incredible creatures in their natural habitat may tell you they seem to be the most human-like of the species, as well.
They've evolved to survive the most brutal, punishing winter conditions on the planet—lows of -60°C and winds up to 200km per hour (124 mph). Yet Emperor penguins are incredibly vulnerable to phenomena like climate change. This is particularly true of the northernmost breeding colony near Snow Hill Island, Antarctica.
One of the most difficult places to reach on earth, the ice around Snow Hill is home to nearly 4,000 breeding pairs of Antarctica's approximately 595,000 adult Emperors. The males of the species huddle together for warmth through the harsh winter, each incubating a single egg _on his feet, using his brood pouch to keep it warm_ while his partner is off hunting for krill and fish.
“Emperor penguins breed on the sea ice, so you won't see them on a regular shore landing. The colony is only accessible by helicopter, and then you need to stop breaking ice far enough away that you don't disturb the penguins. That means you need helicopters to get the rest of the way in.” - Kerry Peters, Snow Hill passenger
Check out these and other fun facts about Emperor penguins in our new infographic, Emperor Penguins: Captivating Giants of the Penguin Species. Want to see the Emperors for yourself in the wild near Snow Hill? Learn more about the upcoming Emperor Penguin Quest: Expedition to Snow Hill expedition here.