First contact with huge Antarctica emperor penguin colony – in pictures

Scientists Hubert and Soete, had been studying ice loss at a remote site 150 miles from the Princess Elisabeth research station. They were scientists from the British Antarctic Survey working along with U.S. colleagues.

It was during this time that an unknown colony of 9,000 strong emperor penguins was discovered via satellite images. Their location was made evident by the fecal stains seen on the ice.

Three experts from Belgium's Princess Elisabeth Antarctica polar research station traveled to the penguin site on the Antarctica's Princess Ragnhild coast in early December. They have now become the first people to visit and photograph the colony of emperor penguins.

The expedition leader, Alain Hubert, said: "I knew from last year's satellite study that there could potentially be an emperor colony east of Derwael ice rise.

"Because we were operating not far from this the satellite location, I decided to force the way and try to access this remote and unknown place. The surprise was even more than all I could have expected or dreamed about: I realized while counting the penguins that this was a very populated colony.

"It was almost midnight when we succeeded in finding a way down to the ice through crevasses and approached the first of five groups of more than a thousand individuals, three-quarters of which were chicks. This was an unforgettable moment."

Enjoy the photo shots of this memorable experience below.

The Emperor Penguin ~

The Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) is the tallest and heaviest of all living penguin species and is endemic to Antarctica. The male and female are similar in plumage and size, reaching 122 cm (48 in) in height and weighing anywhere from 22 to 45 kg (49 to 99 lb). The dorsal side and head are black and sharply delineated from the white belly, pale-yellow breast and bright-yellow ear patches. Like all penguins it is flightless, with a streamlined body, and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine habitat.

Its diet consists primarily of fish, but can also include crustaceans, such as krill, and cephalopods, such as squid. In hunting, the species can remain submerged up to 18 minutes, diving to a depth of 535 m (1,755 ft). It has several adaptations to facilitate this, including an unusually structured hemoglobin to allow it to function at low oxygen levels, solid bones to reduce barotrauma, and the ability to reduce its metabolism and shut down non-essential organ functions.

The Emperor Penguin is perhaps best known for the sequence of journeys adults make each year in order to mate and to feed their offspring. The only penguin species that breeds during the Antarctic winter, it treks 50–120 km (31–75 mi) over the ice to breeding colonies which may include thousands of individuals. The female lays a single egg, which is incubated by the male while the female returns to the sea to feed; parents subsequently take turns foraging at sea and caring for their chick in the colony. The lifespan is typically 20 years in the wild, although observations suggest that some individuals may live to 50 years of age. (Source: Wikipedia)

  Photograph: René Rober/International Polar Foundation

Responses to "First contact made with huge Emperor Penguin Colony in Antarctica"

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful photos of precious creatures

  2. Anonymous says:

    First contact? - Poor penguins! They will be getting missionaries next, and travelling salesmen, STDs, alcohol, Mount Satan GMO fish and junk food and cruise ship tourists.

    Not to mention ornithologists!


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