Macaroni penguins, Drake Passage, Chile
© Paul Souders/Getty Image
Taking the plunge. Penguin Awareness Day
Let's flap our flippers and dive into Penguin Awareness Day! Today's image features macaroni penguins swimming in the plankton-rich waters of the Drake Passage off the coast of Chile. These charming creatures, one of 18 different species of penguin in the Southern Hemisphere, can be recognized by their flashy amber crests and orange beaks. The name is said to have been coined by English sailors, derived from a term used to describe flamboyant dressers in the late 18th century.
Macaroni penguins can be a bad-tempered bunch who get into noisy fights. To avoid this, males often ease their way through crowded colonies with their heads tucked down to their chests. The main threats though, are not their fellow penguins. Reduced food availability, fishing nets, and the impact of climate change on sea ice are among challenges faced by this species, which has been classified as vulnerable due to population decline.