Penguins of the World
Penguins of the World
Penguins of the World Penguins of the World Penguins of the World

* Book Type:

Not Available Online
Publisher: Firefly Books

Edition Notes: Second revised and updated edition
Author Statement: Text and photographs by Wayne Lynch
Audience: Trade
Specs: more than 130 color photographs, maps, bibliography, index
Pages: 176
Trim Size: 8 1/2" x 11" x 1/2"
Language code 1: eng
Publication Date: 20070817
Copyright Year: 2007
Price: Select Below

Penguins of the World

A well-illustrated classic study of penguins, now revised and expanded to include the latest facts and statistics on all aspects of their biology, habitat, predation, as well as the effects of climate change.

The internationally successful movie March of the Penguins showcases the life of these fascinating flightless birds that have become such prominent symbols of the fragile nature of our ecosystem. Faced with global warming, invasive tourism, pollution and loss of habitat, penguins -- if they are to survive -- need protection more than ever.

Over the past 18 years, Wayne Lynch has traveled to Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and a dozen remote island clusters in the tempestuous Southern Ocean, studying and photographing all 17 species of penguins in their natural habitats. In Penguins of the World, he documents the extraordinary life cycles of these tough, resourceful and beautiful animals in the harshest environments imaginable.

This second edition has been revised, redesigned and expanded, with detailed information and the latest facts and statistics on:

  • Anatomy
  • Egg and chick development
  • Mating and feeding habits
  • Predators
  • Habitats
  • Climate change
  • Changes to food levels.

Through his engaging text and on-location photographs, Wayne Lynch captures these birds in their wide variety of activities and behaviors. Penguins of the World will appeal to anyone interested in birds, nature and science.


Wayne Lynch, MD, is a science writer and wildlife photographer. He is the author of award-winning books and television documentaries, a popular guest lecturer, and a Fellow of the Explorer's Club and the Arctic Institute of North America.



Penguin Passion

I saw my first penguin in November 1989. The sun had gone down an hour before, and I was shivering on a concrete bleacher in a cold wind. Around me sat several hundred other people anxiously watching the surf curl across a sandy beach on Phillip Island, in southern Australia. I was there for the nightly "penguin parade," where, under the glare of spotlights, hundreds of little penguins waddle up the beach to their nesting burrows. Surrounded by garrulous tourists and assailed by loudspeakers blaring artificial excitement, it was possibly the worst way to see an animal for the first time.

Even so, the penguins were wonderful. As eminent paleontologist Dr. George Gaylord Simpson wrote: "Penguins are habit-forming, and I am an addict." Like Simpson, it now seems that I, too, am an addict. That night on Phillip Island, I never imagined that over the next 18 years, I would travel more than 313,000 miles (504,000 km), which would include seven trips to Antarctica as well as multiple journeys to the Galapagos Islands, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and a dozen remote island clusters in the tempestuous Southern Ocean, in search of the 16 other species of penguins.

As I write these words, it is late September, and I am excitedly preparing for my second voyage on a Russian icebreaker that will venture deep into Antarctica's Weddell Sea. There, I will observe and photograph emperor penguins -- among the most alluring of the Earth's creatures. But all of my adventures with those charming "feathered fish" we know as penguins have been memorable. I remember the searing heat of Chile's Atacama Desert one Christmas Day when my wife and I searched the crevices of a volcanic island for nesting Humboldt penguins. I also recall laughing into my snorkel as a Galapagos penguin darted past my mask in the gin-clear waters of the equator, and I will never forget the black rock, white ice and golden light of the Antarctic Peninsula as a group of Adélie penguins porpoised across the bow of my Zodiac. With memories like these, how could I not become addicted to penguins?

It turns out that Simpson and I are not alone in our penguinophilia. Penguin watching on Phillip Island is now a multi-million-dollar business. Last year, more than 500,000 eager visitors packed the island's parking lot. Zoos discovered the popularity of penguins some 90 years ago, and today, the birds are among their top attractions. At least 274 zoos, from Singapore to Sweden, feature penguin exhibits. Topping the list are the United States and Japan. Each country has roughly 70 zoos with penguins in their collections. The most famous of these is the Penguin Encounter at Sea World of California in San Diego, which boasts the largest colony of antarctic penguins outside of the continent itself. The park has nearly 350 penguins of seven different species. The indoor exhibit, a 5,000-square-foot (465 m2) refrigerator, is kept at a constant 25°F (-4°C) and has five tons (4,500 kg) of snow blown into it every day to keep the birds chilled out.

At a time when the trend in films is toward dazzling special effects and lifelike animations, the penguin craze has overtaken even Hollywood. Who could have predicted that a small-budget French film by former ecologist Luc Jacquet chronicling a year in the life of the emperor penguin would receive worldwide critical acclaim and win an Academy Award for 2006's best documentary feature film? It's easy for me, an avowed critter junkie, to understand why March of the Penguins, a simple film about a flightless polar seabird, is so appealing. But why did the film tug at the heartstrings of so many people who had never thought about penguins before, some of whom did not even know where Antarctica was located? No doubt, the continent's crystalline beauty, the stunning cinematography and the soothing, trustworthy voice of narrator Morgan Freeman contributed to the film's overwhelming appeal and box-office success. But perhaps it was something deeper than that. Could it be that a film about penguins and the natural world was a timely reminder of the relatedness of all life on Earth? No one has the answer to this question, although it is certain that movie studios would love to crack the code and inundate us with imitations. No matter, I am pleased that penguins, for a time at least, have become a symbol of all that is special and valuable in nature.

Advertisers have eagerly capitalized on the appeal of penguins for decades. Besides promoting ice-cream treats, refrigerators and party ice, penguins are frequently used to sell tuxedos and other formal wear, and it's easy to understand why. As the famous ornithologist Robert Cushman Murphy wrote in 1936: "With singular unanimity, explorers have likened the Adélie penguin to a smart and fussy little man in evening clothes, with the tail of his black coat dragging on the ground... who walks with the roll and swagger of an old salt just ashore from a long voyage."

A fun-loving biologist friend of mine, Dr. Peter Carey, collects photographs of various commercial products from around the world that use the image of a penguin in their advertisements. Two unusual ones are a Japanese jam and a popular brand of Brazilian beer. Paperback books published by Penguin Books, of course, are familiar to many people. The story goes that when the publisher was searching for a logo with which to launch his new paperback series, his secretary suggested a penguin. The bird seemed to be a perfect choice, since it embodied the spirit of the series -- "dignified flippancy."

Humankind's fascination with penguins goes back a long time. For many centuries, the Aborigines of Australia, the Yahgans of Tierra del Fuego, the Maoris of New Zealand and the Bantus of southern Africa were interested in penguins and were acquainted with them in a way that can occur only when they are lying on your dinner plate. European and American explorers had a similar interest in the birds. Beginning in the 1500s, virtually every voyage of exploration to the Southern Ocean included salted barrelfuls of penguins for the ships' larders. Even today, peasant fishermen in Peru and Chile kill Humboldt penguins to feed their families.

But most of us lead lives quite removed from the natural world of penguins, and the present-day popularity of the birds certainly cannot be explained by their edibility. No doubt, there are many things that endear penguins to us, not the least of which are their upright stance, unwary curious nature, comical waddling gait, large heads -- many with golden crests or bright patches of color -- and fluffy potbellied chicks that resemble overstuffed laundry bags. In his book Penguins -- Past and Present, Here and There, George Gaylord Simpson offers even more reasons we may find penguins so appealing: "It is easy to think of many penguin activities in human terms. They fight with their neighbors; steal from each other; quarrel with their wives but also give them gifts of rare stones; divide chores between mates, sometimes quite unevenly; often take good care of the kids but sometimes neglect or even kill them; are frequently true, in their fashion, to mates but sometimes have affairs and often are, in effect, divorced and remarried; play games; shout; make messes -- the list could be prolonged."

Indeed, since Simpson wrote these insightful words more than three decades ago, the list is much longer. Today, scientists are scrutinizing every penguin species in many of the most remote corners of the planet. Through their eyes, we have learned that the lives of penguins are far more interesting and complex than we ever imagined. Though Simpson playfully compared the lives of penguins with those of humans, the life of a penguin goes well beyond the realm of our common shared experience. It is a life rich in adaptations and behaviors quite unique from our own. In the past o years, the rapid pace of satellite technology has added even more to our understanding of these remarkable seabirds. Today, it is possible to track penguins across the vast, featureless expanses of the open oceans, chart the remarkable depths and frequencies of their feeding dives, calculate the size and success of their catches and even use implanted transponders to monitor their visits to their chicks.

For the past 28 years, I have devoted my life to the study and photography of wildlife behavior, and no group of creatures has interested me more than penguins. In this book, I will share with you the discoveries I have made, both in the field and in the countless pages of scientific journals, about how penguins survive from day to day, how they have often made me laugh and how I have been deeply saddened by the tragedies that befall them. Most of all, Penguins of the World is a book about life, and in it, penguins are the heroes and villains, the winners and losers.


Preface: Penguin Passion

  1. Blueprint of a Penguin

    • Outliving the Dinosaurs
    • The Basic Penguin
    • Penguins on the Move
    • All in the Family
  2. Penguin Haunts

    • From the Equator to Antarctica
    • Taking the Heat and Beating the Chill
    • Penguin Impostors
  3. Sex and the Single Penguin

    • The Breeding Season
    • Truth in Advertising
    • Fidelity, Divorce and the Penguin Kiss
    • Crowd-Crazy Colonies
  4. Family Life

    • Egg-Citing Details
    • Eggnappers and Ice Borers
    • Get Cracking
    • Chicks Under Foot and Flipper
    • More Chick Chatter
    • Starving Kings
  5. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

    • Southern Seafood
    • Sea Hunting
    • Lions and Leopards
  6. The Cycle Ends

    • The Graduating Class
    • The Big Meltdown

Appendix One: Penguins of the World

  • Map: The Southern Hemisphere

Appendix Two: Penguins and People

Further Reading

Author Events   Firefly Books Fall 2021 Catalog PDF