Although Gentoos are a Sub-Antarctic species, some rookeries are to be found on the rocky coasts of the Antarctic Peninsula. They are small, brush tailed (like Adelies and Chinstrap Penguins), and are similar in colouration to Adelies except for a distinctive white patch above the eyes and orange rather than pink feet. The origin of their name is rather a mystery. An unproven theory is that a British Museum Natural History scientist received the skin of a Gentoo penguin from an Antarctic explorer but kept the fact a secret. Following his own expedition to Papua New Guinea, he returned claiming that the bird originated from there. He named it after the name of a religious sect found on Papua. This theory is backed up by reference to the otherwise inexplicable scientific name for the species, Pygoscelis Papua.
Just under 3 foot in height Gentoos feed mainly on krill and form nests from pebbles. They are quite similar to Adelies both in appearance and charateristics but the differences are quite apparent from this superb photograph of a Gentoo and an Adelie standing side by side. This picture was taken by Miho Kagawa of Japan - a travelling companion of mine on an expedition to Brown Bluff on the Antarctic Peninsula in October 2006. In this photograph the two species are similar in height whereas Gentoos are generally slightly taller.
The other photographs shows below were also taken during this expedition in October 2006. Please look here to see some Adelie penguins in an adjacent rookery.
A large colony of Gentoo penguins can be found on the Australian sub-antarctic island of Macquarie. These photos were taken during an expedition there in November 2011.