Spheniscus is a genus within the taxonomic family Spheniscidae, (penguins). They are collectively referred to as the banded penguins due to their characteristic coloration. They possess black and white banding on their heads, a black stripe along their flanks, and sparsely feathered or naked skin near the eyes. The beak is hooked and strong.

This genus is comprised of four distinct species, those being:

  • spheniscus demersus, Jackass penguins
  • spheniscus humboldti, Humboldt penguins
  • spheniscus megallanicus, Megellanic penguins
  • spheniscus mendiculus, Galapagos penguins

These species vary in size considerably. The smallest on average are the Jackass penguins with a height of 30 cm. They are closely followed by the Humboldt penguins at 38 cm., then the Galapagos penguins at 53 cm., and finally the largest being the Magellanic penguins at 70 cm. in height.

While many penguin species are comfortable in Antarctica, members of this group prefer gentler climes. They can be found off the coast of South Africa and Namibia as well as off the coast of Chile and Argentina. The Galapagos penguins are of course native to the Galapagos Islands, making them the northernmost species. Due to the milder regions they inhabit, these penguins have more flexibility in their breeding cycles as well as their moulting cycle. Some banded penguins breed throughout the year.