How Do Emperor Penguins Protect Themselves?

Living in the coldest place in the world, an emperor penguin has layers of thick feathers as a first line of defense. Except for the feet and underside of the wings, scale-like and waterproof feathers cover the penguin's whole body to provide insulation and protection from the freezing Antarctic weather.

Temperatures in the polar region plummet in winter, and emperor penguins survive the harsh season by crowding together in large huddles called turtle formation to conserve and share body heat. The temperature can reach up to 20 degrees inside the turtle formation. Unlike other territorial penguins, emperor penguins work together as a group. When the ones at the core of the huddle have warmed themselves, they move out to allow the birds on the edges of the formation to move in to the center.

Penguins main predators are leopard seals and killer whales. They use their feet and agility to swim fast and seek the land when threatened by killer whales. They generally avoid leopard seals and try to stay in a group to avoid being eaten. Skuas, a type of sea bird, are fond of penguin eggs and newborn birds. Adult penguins protect the eggs by tucking them underneath their feet or by creating a ring with other penguins to stand guard around the eggs and the young ones.