Why are penguins black (or blue) and white?

Penguins of Madagascar snip penguin camouflageThe long standing theory of penguin camouflage is debunked by scientist Dr Thomas Mattern in an excellent blog and video article.

Penguin scientist Mattern explains that “many, many sources ranging from the popular to scientific spectrum state that the penguin’s black back makes the bird more difficult to spot while at sea. When seen from above they disappear in front of the dark blue of the ocean, while their white bellies help them to blend in when seen against the bright sky from below.”

Indeed the West Coast Penguin Trust uses this theory in our educational resource.

Well, that resource now needs to be updated in light of this review of the evidence by Dr Mattern.

His excellent blog and short video links the countershading to thermoregulation, protection from abrasion, energetic reasons (more energy is used to add colour) and social signalling.  Read all about it and watch the video here.

penguins-from-below