Distribution and Habitat of Penguins

Penguin species are at various locations spread across each continent in the Southern Hemisphere. The only penguin species that can be found in the Northern Hemisphere are those housed at zoos and aquariums. For the most part, many people envision icy-cold conditions when they think about where penguins live. This may be true for some species of penguins, but there are several penguin species that prefer the warmer waters and sandy beaches. In fact, a couple of penguins make their home close to the equator.

South America

Megellanic penguins prefer the coasts of Chile and Argentina. They also prefer the Falkland Islands. The Humbolt penguins also prefer the coastline of Argentina and Chile. However, they can also be found at the Galapagos Islands with the Galapagos penguins as well as along the coast of Peru. Falkland Islands are also where the Rockhopper penguins, the Macaroni penguin, the King penguin, and the Gentoo penguins like to call home.


Along the southern tip of South Africa is the preferred habitat of the African black-footed penguin. The African black-footed penguin is also referred to as the African penguin or the black-footed penguin. They prefer the warm, sandy beaches of South Africa compared to the harsh, frigid conditions of the Antarctic. The also love the abundance of fish available considering the fact that they tend to eat around forty fish a day. On Marion Island, just south of South Africa, the King penguin and the Eastern Rockhopper enjoy spending their time breeding and hunting for food.


Australia is home to the smallest penguin in the world. The little blue penguin is known by a few related names such as the little penguin, the blue penguin, and is sometimes called the fairy penguin. Royal penguins and King penguins prefer the breeding grounds of the Macquarie Islands south of Australia and New Zealand. King penguins can also be found in Australia’s territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands.

New Zealand

The little blue penguin also likes to call New Zealand home along with five other penguin species. These species include the Erect-crested penguins, Fiordland penguins, Rockhopper penguins, Snare Island penguins, and the yellow-eyed penguins.


When many people think of where penguins live, Antarctica is the first continent to come to mind and rightfully so. It is where six species of penguins prefer to call home. These species include the Emperor penguin, the Adelie penguin, the Gentoo penguin, the Macaroni penguin, the Rockhopper penguin, and the Chinstrap penguin. However, the Emperor penguin is the only penguin species to breed and nest in Antarctica.

Iles Crozet Island

This island is located in the Southern Indian Ocean and home to four species of penguins. These penguin species include King penguins, Macaroni penguins, Gentoo penguins, Eastern Rockhopper penguins.

One thing all of these penguins and habitats have in common is the penguins need for a good food supply. Because penguins dine on large amounts of fish, crustaceans, squid, and krill, they need to be close to the water. Aside from hunting, penguins need to be near water because they spend seventy-five percent of their lives in the water playing and having fun.  For penguin species that nest during breeding season, they also need land in which they can utilize the grass, rocks, and sticks for their nests and burrows.

Scientists are concerned about environmental issues that face penguins and their natural habitat today. As the world warms, this is slowly melting parts of the Arctic and Antarctic also causing the warmer habitats of penguins to become increasingly hotter. As the ice begins to melt in the Antarctic, this means there is less habitat for them the stand on and also creates a further distance of travel to breeding grounds for some penguins.

With the waters becoming increasingly warmer, the food supply is dramatically reduced. Human interference is also a big factor in the decline of penguin habitats. As the human population grows, the natural habitat of some penguins is diminished. Humans also pollute what habitat they have left with debris, oil, and other chemicals.

All of this also has an affect on penguin breeding cycles. Some penguins will become too distressed and choose not to breed. Others will abandon their eggs to search for food. This can cause a drastic drop in their population that will take years if not decades to recover from, if at all. Regardless, this shows how important maintaining penguin habitats are to the survival of various penguin species around the Southern Hemisphere.