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The Sub-Antarctic Islands at the Biodôme

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King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonica).
Photo: Biodôme de Montréal (Louis-Étienne Doré)
King penguins (Aptenodytes patagonica).

To the east of the tip of South America, there are islands teeming with life. It is in this part of the world that penguins can be found. To learn the difference between penguins and auks (which are often confused in French), a visit to the Montréal Biodôme is a must!

Polar cold at the Montréal Biodôme

Visiting the sub-Antarctic Islands ecosystem at the Biodôme is probably the ideal family outing during a heatwave in Montréal! In penguin country, the seasons are reversed compared to ours. In the Sub-Antarctic Islands, it's winter in the middle of July! But in summer and winter, the ambient temperature of their habitat ranges between 2°C and 5°C. And to give visitors a little shiver, the Montréal Biodôme has installed a real ice tunnel that allows them to feel the nip of the polar cold.

Penguins threatened by climate change

In a landscape that recalls the shoreline of a volcanic island, penguins waddle on the rocks and dive into the cold water. Thanks to the basin's large windows, you can easily observe them as they swim about. You can see how agile they are underwater as they rush past at high speed. While the king penguin impresses with its large size, the northern rockhopper penguin draws a few laughs with its crown of yellow and black feathers behind the eyes. At the Montréal Biodôme, penguins are the stars of the show, but you'll soon notice that the children's spectacle unfolding in front of the pool is just as touching.

These magnificent birds belong to the Spheniscidae family, a group of flightless aquatic birds. In all, five species can be observed at the Montréal Biodôme: the king penguin, the gentoo penguin, the chinstrap penguin, the northern rockhopper penguin and the macaroni penguin.

A few facts and figures

  • These birds belong to the Spheniscidae family.
  • The Montréal Biodôme is one of the few zoological institutions in America where the northern rockhopper has been able to reproduce with great success over the years.
  • The volcanic islands mentioned would be located east of the tip of South America.
  • The rock formation shown is basalt.
  • The day length in this ecosystem follows the cycle specific to Sub-Antarctic regions.
  • In the Sub-Antarctic Islands, the seasons are reserved compared to the Northern Hemisphere.

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