The Chinstrap penguin is a medium sized penguin with the identifying thin black line on its white face, stretching across its cheeks. The boundary between black and white areas passes above the dark eye, isolated in the white colored plumage. The beak of the Chinstrap penguin is black. Unlike other penguin species, juveniles of this bird are very similar to their parents. Before the first molt, they are identified by dark colored markings around their eyes and relatively short beak, compared to adult individuals.
The species is distributed across Antarctic and southern part of Pacific Ocean, living along coastlines as well as on islands and icebergs.
The Chinstrap penguins are highly social birds, gathering in large colonies, where they live and breed. These near-shore feeders forage in water among large pieces of floating ice or in the open sea. By the midnight and noon, they dive to catch fish and krill, remaining under the surface less than a minute. The flippers of these birds help them "fly" when swimming under the water. Coming out of the water, they use all four limps to climb up steep slopes. When on land, they often slide on their stomachs over the ice surface, using their flippers and feet to propel themselves. In addition, these penguins are able to make quite long jumps. These birds are non-migratory. However, during the winter months, from March to the beginning of May, they usually leave their colonies, moving north along the pack ice.
Chinstrap penguins are carnivores (piscivores). They have very simple diet, typically consisting of aquatic animals such as small fish and roaming marine crustaceans, including krill.
These penguins are normally monogamous. Every year, they come to the same breeding grounds, forming large colonies of up to 100,000 pairs. Usually, males return about 5 days before females in order to prepare the nest. They try to find the cavity in the rock, which served them as a nest during the previous breeding season. Finding the nesting site, the male rebuilds and fixes it, using rocks and bones. Mating season lasts from November to December. Typically, two eggs are laid and incubated for 37 days. Both the male and the female participate in incubating, taking turns in every six days. The hatchlings remain in the nest with their parents, until they reach the age of 1 month, joining a crèche of other chicks. Then, after around 7 - 9 weeks, when the young molt, attaining their adult plumage and, they are ready to go out to sea.
The primary threat is global warming, leading to environmental changes, which negatively affect the population of these penguins. Another concern in commercial fishing, reducing the number of fish populations they consume, especially in the Southern Ocean region. In addition, the penguins are occasionally entangled and captured in fishing nets.
These penguins are fairly widespread throughout their range. The overall population of Chinstrap penguins is about 8 million birds, and is currently increasing. On the IUCN Red List, the species is classified as Least Concern (LC).
Feeding upon krill and fish, the Chinstrap penguins control numbers of these species populations.