Are Penguins Color Blind?

Eyes present in the animals face help for clear vision, and provide sensitivity to identify the colors. Pixel quality depends upon the species of animals. Terrestrial animals like humans have 576-pixel clarity, and some other birds like eagles, falcons have more pixel vision than humans.

But they become short-sighted or myopic when they are underwater, and far-sighted or hyperopic when they are on land. But in the case of aquatic animals, the functions of eyes are vice versa.

If we are underwater, we don’t get a clear vision (blurry vision), because the refractive property of the cornea (the outermost part of the eye which helps to focus the object) is lower, so we wear goggles or masks. The cornea of terrestrial animals adjusted to focus the vision with the help of air. An aquatic animal’s cornea is spherical shaped, which gives a clear view of the water.

Penguins View Underwater

Penguins are animals which has an amphibian character that must have a clear vision both on land and water. Because they will get their prey underwater, and should also look after their eggs, and the young ones.

They have a solution for this, i.e., the flattened cornea, which refracts less underwater. They have large eyeballs. The shape adjustment of the lens helps them to spot their prey with clear color vision, so they are not color blind. They can recognize some colors.

What color are penguins’ eyes?

Rock-hopper Penguin Eye

Emperor and king penguin’s eyes are diamond-shaped. Their eye color varies among the species.

  • Some of the penguins have reddish-brown, golden- brown, and brown eyes.
  • Rockhopper penguins and macaroni penguin’s eyes are red-colored.
  • Little blue penguins, i.e., fairy penguins, have bluish-grey eyes.
  • Yellow-eyed penguins have yellow eyes, as their names indicate. 
Yellow-Eyed Penguin

For what purposes do penguins use their eyes?

Penguin’s eyes play a significant role compared to other birds. Clear vision is essential for penguins to live on both land and water. They have binocular vision eyes. Penguin’s eyes help catch the fish underwater. Their eyes also useful for color vision, and they can recognize the light spectrum of color violet, blue, and green color lights as well as for the ultraviolet rays.

Penguins Hunt Underwater

The only marine birds which can reflect the ultraviolet rays are emperor penguins and king penguins. They use their beak to reflect the ultraviolet rays. This reflection helps both the females and males for mate selection, with the strong representation of ultraviolet rays.   

Since penguins spend most of their time in the water, they have a sense of colors. Around 3-5 m depth each and everything looks blue-green since red, and yellow lights disappear. So they can’t see more red shade, but they are more sensitive to blue-green tones.

Do penguins close their eyes?

Generally, fish don’t close their eyes, because they don’t have eyelids. But penguins have bright eyelids. Their eyelids have an active muscle called nictitating membrane that protects eyes underwater as well as from an injury. They are known as the third eyelid. They have a clear vision underwater to catch the fish.

Usually, penguins don’t sleep for hours like humans or other animals. They take short and quick naps for the whole day. Penguins sleep for minutes because if they are not with high alert and fall asleep, it may provide harm from predators like seals. Some research says that they spent more time in the water so that they may sleep even underwater.


Finally, we can say penguins are not color blind, they have eyes which gives clear vision underwater as well as on the land, and are sensitive to colors also. Their clear vision helps to catch the food and has protective eyelids to protect the eyes.


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I got interested in penguins from a young age and as I grew I realized that penguins are such fascinating birds. I made it a mission to create a website where all information about penguins could be accessed in an easy to read format.

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