Penguin Couple Emerges From Ocean Holding Hands
Monogamy is not uncommon in the animal kingdom. There are species like wolves, barn owls, bald eagles and swans that settle down with the first mate the find as a match. Swans especially are the epitome of everlasting love, so much so that there have been instances where a swan’s mate would suddenly perish and they would mourn their loss.
Now a new proof of pure, everlasting love has emerged from the shores of South Africa and we are all butterflies in our bellies. Norma Landeros-Ramirez and her husband were celebrating their honeymoon in Cape Town, South Africa, when they spotted two Magellanic penguins emerge from the water, basically holding hands! As the two birds come out on the sand, they join flippers and waddle a bit on the beach.
“Since my husband and I are newlyweds, I wanted to see the penguins because I have heard that they keep one partner for life, so it seemed fitting,” said the new bride, who spotted the two lovebirds at Boulders Penguin Colony. “They held hands for at least 30 seconds. Both had emerged from the water and then began waddling on the beach together. They then rested on the beach where other penguins were nesting or mating.”
In case you think we are reading way too much into this, think again. Penguin couples have been known to exhibit behaviors quite like us, humans. One Magellanic penguin couple remained together for 16 years, which is nearly their entire breeding life, considering they live up to 20 years of age if they get lucky. Pablo Garcia Borboroglu, a tale researcher, and founder and President of the Global Penguin Society, led a 30-year study, where most penguin pairs would last five to 10 years until one of them couldn’t breed anymore.
When they lay an egg, each penguin parent would take turns leaving the nest while foraging for food. Another researcher by the name of Jean-Baptiste Thiebot found similar behavior in southern rockhopper penguins. According to him, the bonds for breeding may last all life in the species, even though the partners may sometimes be separated by hundreds of thousands of miles at sea.
It is speculated that the secret to these long-lasting bonds lies in the process of leaving and then returning to the same nesting place. Magellanic penguin couples take solo trips up to 200,000 miles and return to the nest each year. The females usually lay two eggs and together with the males they take turns watching the egg and swimming up to 100 miles every day looking for food.
Penguins are one of a number of species famous for forming strong pair bonds to protect their young. As the parents work together to look after their chicks, the males have been known to lose up to 50% of their fat supply over the course of four months. As a comparison, Emperor and King penguins have consideringly higher breakup rates.
Whether this pair will endure remains to be seen. If we have learned anything from science thus far, the odds are ever in this couple’s favor.