Saturday, October 30, 2010

Penguin Pals: Harlequin

Just in time for Halloween, I would like to introduce you to Harlequin. She is an African penguin with a purple bracelet on her right wing. She was born here at the Aquarium on November 8, 1992.

The word harlequin often refers to a color pattern that consists of irregular patches, usually gray, blue or black, on a white background. This word also refers to a clown. (Maybe some of you are dressing up as a harlequin for Halloween at the Aquarium!)

The four species of penguins in the Spheniscus genus are also referred to as the banded or Harlequin penguins. They include the African penguin, Galapagos penguin, Humboldt penguin and the Magellanic penguin. These four species all have similar coloration, with a black stripe across their chest and a white stripe around their eyes. The varied pattern of these stripes is how you can physically distinguish one species from another.

African penguin
Spheniscus demersus

Galapagos penguin
Spheniscus mendiculus

Humboldt penguin
Spheniscus humboldti

Magellanic penguin
Spheniscus magellanicus

Illustrations by B. Harmon

Come on down to see the penguins this weekend in your Halloween finest! Be sure to look for Harlequin, she'll be the one in the penguin "costume".

Have a happy and safe Halloween.
– Andrea

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