In Dynasties episode 2 – Emperor – David Attenborough : A colony of emperor penguins gather in Atka Bay, on the coast of Antarctica, after three months of feeding at sea. They arrive as the water freezes over and all the other Antarctic animals have left the continent for the relative safety of the sea.
Dynasties episode 2 – Emperor – David Attenborough
The penguins have come here to raise the next generation in their emperor’s dynasty. But to do so they will have to work together to keep themselves and their chicks alive through the coming winter – the coldest and cruellest on earth.
Five extraordinary animals, each in a heroic struggle against rivals and against the forces of nature, fighting for their own survival and for the future of their dynasties.
The emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species and is endemic to Antarctica. The male and female are similar in plumage and size, reaching 122 cm (48 in) in height and weighing from 22 to 45 kg (49 to 99 lb). The dorsal side and head are black and sharply delineated from the white belly, pale-yellow breast and bright-yellow ear patches. Like all penguins it is flightless, with a streamlined body, and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine habitat.
Its diet consists primarily of fish, but can also include crustaceans, such as krill, and cephalopods, such as squid. In hunting, the species can remain submerged up to 18 minutes, diving to a depth of 535 m (1,755 ft). It has several adaptations to facilitate this, including an unusually structured haemoglobin to allow it to function at low oxygen levels, solid bones to reduce barotrauma, and the ability to reduce its metabolism and shut down non-essential organ functions.
The only penguin species that breeds during the Antarctic winter, emperor penguins trek 50–120 km (31–75 mi) over the ice to breeding colonies which may include thousands of individuals.