Gentoo penguins are carnivores and mainly consume fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods. Different times of the year mark different percentages of their diet. Krill (Euphausia vallentini) and shrimp (Nauticaris marioni) make up most of the crustacean diet. In February and March, crustaceans make up about 10% of their diet but from March to June it jumps to 75%. All other times of the year, crustaceans are absent from their diet.
From June to October, rockcod (Lepidonotothen squamifrons) make up 90% of their diet, but they also consume unicorn icefish (Channichthys rhinoceratus). Cephalopods only make up 10% of their diet during the year. The main types of cephalopods foraged on are octopi and sometimes small squid. The seasonal diet variation is due the presence of other penguin species during breeding season, seasonal migration of prey, as well as the availability of prey at varying depths. Most other penguins forage in deeper waters which will push some prey species closer to shore and into the prime range for gentoos.
Gentoo penguins feed in shallow regions. When they are underwater, their metabolic rate slows down enabling them to stay underwater for longer periods to forage.
During the chick-rearing stage, parent gentoos will return to the nest and regurgitate their freshly caught food for their chicks to eat.
Animal Foods: fish; mollusks; aquatic crustaceans
Primary Diet: carnivore (Piscivore )
- Adams, N., N. Klages. 1989. Temporal variation in the diet of the gentoo penguin Pygoscelis papua at sub-antarctic Marion Island. Colonial Waterbirds, 12/1: 30-36.