After spending 28 hours with the Emperor penguins over 3 days, I learned quite a bit about their behaviors and habits. To my surprise, they spent a lot of time on their bellies performing a variety of activities! As you might guess, they spent some of that time sleeping.
This was often followed by a nice stretch of their wings. I caught several images of one wing out or the other, but occasionally, we had the special treat of an overhead double wing stretch!
They really got into their stretches by opening their mouths and the one below even added in its legs to the full body stretch!
Because the temperature was abnormally warm the three days we visited the colony, we saw many penguins lying down in the ice to eat it!
They drove their heads into the sea ice and then lifted their beaks to get the ice down their throats. It gave us a chance to see inside their beaks and get a view of their pink tongue as well.
Another main reason for belly time was its value as a mode of transportation. They alternated between walking upright and gliding on their stomachs. We learned from the ornithologist on the ship that when the penguins grew tired of walking, they laid down on their stomachs and propelled themselves along on the ice.
If they were going downhill, they allowed gravity to move them; but the majority of the time, they used their wings as well as their feet to propel them over the ice.
Occasionally, they approached us on their stomachs before standing up. It was a fine balance between using this belly method to move faster and being careful not to wear down the feathers on their stomachs that protect them from the harsh cold weather.
I also worked on capturing scenes of Antarctic land in the background to give a sense of place. It was not always easy to isolate a penguin and capture the landscape in the background, but occasionally, I got lucky.
And of course, this series of images would not be complete without seeing the backside of an Emperor leaving me! 🙂
As we end 2018 and look forward to the coming new year, I want to thank you for your support. I enjoy reading the comments and feedback and responding to them. I plan to continue posting more throughout the coming year and hope you will follow along.
You can view these images individually and more not posted here in my portfolio located here.