King Penguins – St Andrews Bay, South Georgia, 2015

St Andrews Bay on South Georgia is home to 150,000 pairs of King Penguins and their chicks. One never forgets the sight, sound and smell of this enormous penguin colony. The colony stretches away as far a the eye can see. With its golden-yellow plumage at the neck and throat, the spectacular King Penguin stands up to 95cm high and weighs up to 17kg and is the second largest Penguin after the Emperor Penguin. In stark contrast, the chicks have dark brown down. It is hard to believe that these balls of down mature into such a magnificent bird. The chicks gather in large creches.

The King Penguin has an unusual breeding cycle. Like the Emperor Penguin, it lays a single egg and holds the egg on its feet under a fold of skin. Incubation takes 55 days and both parents incubate the egg and it is more than one year before fledging. During the winter months the chicks rely on their fat supplies to survive since the parents do not feed the chick. Unlike many penguins, the divorce rate for King Penguins can be as high as 80%.