Sunday, September 14, 2008

And again . . . PENGUINS!

You know, given that we're all living down here for months on end, and that most people here have spent at least a few seasons on the ice before, you'd think that we'd all be used to the wildlife, or at least tire slightly of it.


Friday, when we were having our end-of-week station meeting in anticipation of our two-day weekend (:-D), someone was talking about something, when someone happened to glance out the window and yell "OOOOOOO, PENGUINS!"

And, like FNGs, we all immediately jumped up and looked out the bay windows to see yup, a small raft (a group of penguins is called a "raft", apparently) of penguins porpoising around in the harbor right off the pier. Probably the first raft to actually return this spring. The weather was too lousy for the rest of Friday to go out boating, and for most of Saturday morning, but it around 3pm Saturday it cleared up and the winds died enough to get out in the boats.

Sean, Waslo (not his real name, but . . . well more on that later) and I took a zodiac out and headed for the nearby island of Torgesen, where later in the summer a penguin rookery will form. It's a popular island for both penguins and seals, as it's got a lot of large, flat areas for them to hang out on, and relatively shallow approaches to the ocean. So we got to the island and start motoring around, trying to see if there's anything living on it, when . . .

That would be Sean swearing a bit, and you can barely hear me in the background. I was driving the boat at the time (as I almost always am, because it's fun), so I didn't get any photos of them in the water, but we headed after them, giving them a wide berth so as not to disturb them, so that Sean and Waz could try to get some shots.

Given our luck, we decided to land on the island and go for a bit of a walk. We headed over to the south side, and upon coming around a peak, we saw, off in the distance, more wobbly little silly creatures! So as we all excitedly pulled out our cameras (My with my Canon 30D, Waslo with his Nikon D80 and Sean with his Pentax K200), the penguins noticed us as well (hard to miss us in our bright orange survival suits). And to our surprise and delight they flopped onto their bellies and . . . headed straight for us?

I'm not kidding when I say that I think they were just as curious about us as we were them. The instant they noticed us, they really did make a beeline directly at us. When they got closer, I think their excitement waned a bit, as they realized that we didn't have any fish or krill treats to feed them. Still, though, they didn't seem to mind our presence at all. They don't have any instinctive fear of humans, only recently have they been exposed to us and because they're a protected species, they have little to fear. They're a little skittish around us, as any animal would be when confronted with another animal that's about 6 times larger then they are, but as long as we stayed 20 feet away or so, and didn't make any really sudden movements, they ignored us.

Of course, that meant that we could sit down and proceed to take an obscene number of pictures of them. Which I will now bombard you with. My problem is that I'm pretty lousy at picking out the really great pictures from the simply good ones, so now I'm offloading that task onto you! Click the images for a larger version, of course.

I think these next two need some sort of a silly caption. Something like "Aw, dammit, I stepped in dog poo!" or something like that.

These guys were jawing at each other a bit. Maybe arguing over who got the best bit of rock to stand on, or something.

And in the category of totally-un-smooth-moments, we have this little guy. Who, when trying to waddle over some rocks, did an absolute face-plant into the snow. Which, of course, I captured on camera for all his penguin buddies to laugh at him for. I should put these next three together in a gif or something

Aaaaand, butt flopping straight up in the air! Needs a funny caption. I should have used a faster shutter, but I actually think I like the motion blur.

Of course, like any self-respecting but ultimately silly animal, such as cats, he immediately picked himself up and waddled off, as if to say "What? I meant to do that!"

Even penguins do yoga, apparently. I think this pose is "downward facing chuck norris" or something.

Well, I figure that's enough photospamming for now. And of all the good-quality pictures I took, these are probably only half. If you're curious to see the rest, follow the links through the pics to my photobucket and you can dig through them there. Mostly, it's a lot of fairly similar pictures, I just tried to post one of each set here.

But don't think that's the end of these. Oh no. We went out boating again today, and found . . . MORE PENGUINS! I'm sorting through them now, so expect another deluge of photos in the next couple days.

1 comment:

wiinterrr said...


I have a few penguin blog sites, but the one that I would love to post a link to you on is my Gars O'Higgins Gentoo website. Soon, our little guys will be nesting there, and as Martin so graciously allows me to use his cams, I will have a running commentary on the entire season or until the cams get knocked off line. Had that to happen last year and I was so sorry not to see the chicks in our chosen nests in the rookery grow to adulthood. Still, I had a lot of great shots via the cam and a lot of folks came to watch.

I've been a lurker to your blog so far, but I must tell you that now you have become a wonderful source of penguin pictures (thanks to your own extreme like for them) I will RSS you and post you on all of my penguin sites.

Me? I got hooked on Antarctica and penguins when March came out and my life has not been the same again. I am so grateful for blogs, such as yours, that keep the dream alive for me. I want to eventually go to Antarctica and to all the surrounding islands and write a book based on the biology and the artistry of the places. I recently published my first book (it's so dry, the pages crack-lol) and for my third one (second will be doctoral dissertation)I want to focus on the natural history there where you are... that place this side of heaven, but a bit more colder. :P

Thanks so much for sharing these marvelous pix... they are on their way to my Google screensaver as we speak. You're very good with the camera and I love the captions, too.

Take care new friend,
Lin (in Tennessee) aka le blonde adelie