Dec 2

The all-penguin cast of Happy Feet return to the big screen today here in the UK for more frozen frolics and icy escapades. This time round there are some new crew members on board including two Antarctic krill desperate to climb the food chain, a huge southern elephant seal called Bryan the beachmaster and a lovesick Adelie penguin.

The story is based around a colony of emperor penguins, with the main character Mumble, an expert dancer, attempting to teach his dance-phobic son, Erik, to dance. Erik runs away with his friend Ramon, a love-obsessed Adelie penguin. On their action-packed adventure, they meet a ‘penguin who can fly’, a character that looks suspiciously like a puffin! While away from home, catastrophe ensues, with all species having to pitch in to save themselves from starvation.

We’ve had a skate around the ARKive collection to discover some more about the new faces in Happy Feet Two.

Southern elephant seal image

The big, scary looking southern elephant seal is an ally to the penguins in Happy Feet Two

  • The southern elephant seal has the largest difference between sexes of all mammals; the male can weigh eight to ten times more than the female.
  • The extension of the nose is called a proboscis and is used for vocalising.
  • It has been known to dive for over 2,000 metres and spend 2 hours underwater before resurfacing for air.
  • The southern elephant seal was hunted for oil in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Adelie penguin image

Real life Ramon the Adelie penguin

  • Named after the wife of the French Antarctic explorer Dumont d’Urville.
  • The white underside and black back of the penguin is used to camouflage it while swimming, making it less obvious for predators to spot.
  • An Adelie penguin will return to its site of birth to breed.
  • This species can dive up to 175 metres for food and can reach speeds of 15 kilometres per hour underwater.
Emperor penguin image

Real life Mumbo and Erik

  • Emperor penguins can reach up to a metre in height.
  • The male incubates the egg laid by the female in a pouch of loose, feathery skin in between its legs.
  • The real-life penguin huddle can contain around 5,000 emperor penguins.
  • The emperor penguin can dive up to 200 metres below sea level and resurface for air up to 9 minutes after diving.
Puffin image

Sven from Happy Feet Two must have got very lost as the range of the puffin only extends as far south as the Canary Islands

  • In winter, the colour is lost from the bill in adults, returning in the summer.
  • Puffins are able to dive beneath the surface of the water to hunt for prey.
  • Spending most of their lives at sea, puffins only return to land to breed.
  • The white puffin, a subspecies of puffin, is extremely rare.
Antarctic krill image

Will and Bill the Antarctic krill may be hard to spot amongst the 100 to 500 million tonnes of them present in the sea

  • As a ‘keystone species’, the Antarctic krill is the main prey for a huge amount of predators and plays a vital part in the food chain.
  • Swarms of krill, spanning over 100 kilometres are formed by tidal movements.
  • The female lays several thousand eggs.
  • It has the ability to shrink its body size when food is scarce by using its own tissue for energy, or stopping itself from developing.

Find out more about the habitat of all of these species and more on ARKive’s Antarctic ecoregions page.

Hannah Mulvany, ARKive Species Text Author Intern