Emporer Penguins The Pecking Order Of Penguins


Who doesn’t love penguins? These beautiful, fascinating, intelligent, hilarious creatures are as graceful in the water as they are clumsy on land. There is simply so much to watch and to learn about these flightless birds and seeing them ‘up close and personal’ in their natural habitat is a moving experience.
From the tallest to the smallest and the fastest to the slowest, in this short article, we take a quick look at which penguin species top the table in each important area.

The Biggest Penguin

emperor penguin

Standing at around 1.1 to 1.3 meters and weighing in at up to 45kg, The Emperor Penguin is the largest and heaviest of all the penguin species. They are the fifth heaviest living bird species on the planet.

The Smallest Penguin

Fairy Peguin

The Fairy Penguin is the smallest species of penguin. It grows to an average of around 33 cm high, though specific measurements vary by subspecies. These tiny bundles of cuteness live on the coastlines of New Zealand and Southern Australia.

The Fastest Penguin

Gentoo Peguins

Reaching speeds of up to 22 miles per hour, The Gentoo Penguin is the fastest of all the penguin species. Easily recognisable thanks to their bright orange bill and the wide white stripe extending like a bonnet across the top of the head. Gentoos often jump out of the water to maximise speed as they travel faster through the air than through the water.

The Slowest Penguin

Claiming its second award, the Fairy penguin also picks up the trophy for slowest swimmer. These pocket-sized penguins reach full speed in the water at about 1mile per hour. A poor performance when compared to the Gentoo’s blistering 22 miles per hour.

The Oldest Penguin


Kumimanu biceae is an extinct species of giant penguin which lived around 60 to 56 million years ago. Fossilized remains found in New Zealand suggest these fierce marine predators stood a terrifying 5 feet 7 inches and weighed around 250 pounds.

The Rarest Penguin

yellow eyed penguin

Many species of penguin are under threat of extinction with the effects of climate change and the decrease in the volume of the world’s sea ice. With 10 of the 18 species of penguin currently listed as threatened with extinction, sadly the Yellow Eyed Penguin is the species which is closest to fading away completely. Found only in Australia and New Zealand, Scientific research estimates that there are only 3,400 Yellow Eyed Penguins remaining.

The Deepest Diving Penguin

Another penguin stepping on to the podium for second time, The Emperor penguin can dive to over 500 metres. The Emperor penguin regularly dives between 100 and 200 m but are able to dive a lot deeper. The deepest dive on record is an incredible 565 m deep.

Their dive time is equally impressive too with the average dive lasting 5-6 minutes and amazing dives as long as 22 minutes having been recorded by scientists.

The Longest Living Penguin

Magellanic Penguins

Magellanic Penguins can live up to 30 years, which is thought to be the longest lifespan of any penguin around the world.

The shortest Living Penguin

Unfortunately for them, Little Blue Penguins have the shortest lifespan of all the penguins , living only to up to six short years.

Little Blue Penguins

The Most Colourful Penguin

The Little Blue Penguin could also be considered the most beautifully coloured of all the penguin species. Whilst most penguin species are black and white, this particular species is blue with a white breast. They can be found in Australia and New Zealand and are known to the Maoris as ‘Korora’.

If you’d like to see penguins in the wild, check out our trips to Antarctica, The Falklands, Chile, Argentina and even The Galapagos