Missing Penguins: Why Are There No Penguins in the Arctic?

Penguins are known as flightless birds and their seemingly tuxedo-like black and white feathers cover their body. They prefer to live in colonies and most penguin species are monogamous by nature. This is evident based on scientific documentation of their natural habitats, where they forage, hunt, breed, and raise their young. Most of all, the most interesting fact about penguins is that they are mostly found in the Southern Hemisphere.

Penguins, including majestic emperor penguins, are mainly found in the icy continent of Antarctica but they also have a presence in sub-Antarctic islands, as well as the tiny blue penguins that live in Australia and New Zealand. This means that there are no penguins in the Arctic region, despite its cold temperatures and liveable environments for the walking birds. Such a mystery has been answered by scientists and wildlife experts before.

The reality of most penguins living in the Southern Hemisphere is an undisputed fact. After all, there is a penguin species called Galapagos penguins that live beyond this part of the planet. This species is endemic in the Galapagos Islands, where some Galapagos penguin colonies have been found on the northern tip of Isabela, located north of the Equator and technically in the Northern Hemisphere. However, this is as far north as they can go currently.

Why are There No Penguins in the Arctic?

Missing Penguins: Why Are There No Penguins in the Arctic?
(Photo : Photo by Cornelius Ventures on Unsplash)

Now that we know that the wingless avians are only found in the Southern Hemisphere and only in a small area of the Northern Hemisphere, the question still remains as to why are there no penguins in the Arctic? Over the past decades, scientific expeditions to penguin colonies in different parts of the world have shown that these animals are thriving on their own, especially in the frigid environment of Antarctica.

Yet, no penguins have been found in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, including the Arctic which borders some parts of the United States, Canada, Greenland, Russia, Norway, and Iceland. Experts indicate that there are no penguins in the Arctic due to the likelihood that they have not spread further enough to the north since they are flightless birds. This morphological characteristic limits their northward migration.

Also Read: Where on Earth Did the King Penguins Go?

Predators and Climate Change

Furthermore, penguins (being unable to fly) can only survive in places with no land predators, according to experts. This means that they would not survive across the Arctic wilderness where predators like foxes, polar bears, and wolves roam around. For instance, ‘potential Arctic penguins’ could witness constant disruption and hunting from these mammal predators.

In the south, although Antarctica has sea-dwelling predators like the orca or killer whale, there is no large land predators on it, according to the American Museum of Natural History. However, penguins in the Southern Hemisphere are also threatened by something else: climate change.

In a 2023 study published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, researchers found a record low Antarctic Sea ice in 2022, leading to widespread breeding failure amongst emperor penguin populations across the continent.

Related Article: Deaths of Thousand Penguins In Uruguay Remains To Be A Mystery, Authorities Say

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