What Do Emperor Penguins Eat | Emperor Penguins Feeding Behavior

The emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is the world’s largest penguin species. It is known to feed on crustaceans and fish. Both parents forage at sea in coordination with each other. It has a varied diet but the diet mainly depends on the location. A survey of 1998 showed that the emperor penguins had 90% of their diet composed of fish in three different locations. Prominent among the fish items is Antarctic silverfish (Pleuragramma antarcticum).

What Do Emperor Penguins Eat

The emperor penguin is a social animal and it remains active day and night. It surfaces and swims with coordination and spends many months traveling between the foraging area and the nesting area.

The emperor penguin’s diet consists of crustaceans and small cephalopods.  They dive as deep as 1,480 ft (450 m) into the sea but the normal dive averages 330 ft (100 m).

The penguins are also known to feed near the surface along underneath the ice where they can find crustaceans. These crustaceans often come near the surface to feed on algae.

The emperor penguins are able to travel 90–620 mi (150–1,000 km) in a single foraging journey.

Read More: What do Adelie Penguins Eat?

Parents with a chick. Courtesy www.tcktcktck.org
Parents with a chick. Courtesy www.tcktcktck.org

They supplement their diet with the glacial squid (Psychroteuthis glacialis), hooked squid, and Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba).

They go out to search food in the open water of the Southern Ocean; choosing mainly the ice-free area.

Its first priority is to fight against the extreme cold which it does so by its thick layer of skin. The emperor penguin finds a large amount of prey in waters around the Antarctica. Like other penguins, emperors also use its flippers to dive beneath the surface.

The emperors are able to chase down its prey for as long as 20 minutes after which it reaches the surface to breathe.

It travels up to 300 miles during offshore foraging trips. The penguin’s diet varies with the location.

The emperor penguins rely on sight to prey which is why they mainly hunt at day. They do not typically dive at depths where sunlight cannot penetrate. The penguins must see their prey to be successful. This can only happen if there is sunlight at the depth. They rarely dive at a depth of more than 1,600 feet to eat seabed.

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