Emperor Penguin Pals

Image: Two adult Emperor penguins walking across sea ice, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 440 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As I return back to processing images from Antarctica, I wanted to share several images that demonstrate the peaceful nature of these Emperor penguins. We saw so many of the adult penguins spending time with each other in pairs. I was told that typically all the males or all the females were at sea depending on the time of year, so I assume that most of these interactions were from the same gender. We were not able to distinguish if the majority of the adults were males or females at the colony during the 3 days we visited, but we enjoyed the bonds nonetheless.

Image: Two adult Emperor penguins on sea ice, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/8.0, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Like humans who spend a lot of time together, the adult Emperors seemed to mirror each other’s behavior for a variety of activities. If one penguin was preening, the buddy nearby also got involved in preening.

Image: Two adult Emperor penguins preening on sea ice, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/8.0, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Occasionally, one of the penguins stood guard and watched, but it was typically for a short period of time before both were performing similar behaviors again.

Image: Two adult Emperor penguins on sea ice, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 320 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

They often played “follow-the-leader” with one of the adults leading the way and the second following along dutifully.

Image: Two adult Emperor penguins walking on sea ice, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 220 mm, f/8.0, 1/1250 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Sometimes the lagging penguin found it easier and faster to slide on its belly to catch up with the leader.

Image: Two adult Emperor penguins crossing sea ice, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 210 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

In the case below, the penguin on the left was beginning to go into a belly slide down the iceberg with its companion watching carefully before deciding to join.

Image: Two adult Emperor penguins on an iceberg, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/8.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We often saw both of the penguins on their bellies as they crossed over the sea ice. It was fascinating to see their flippers and feet become in sync as they propelled themselves forward.

Image: Two adult Emperor penguins sliding on sea ice, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/8.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Even when they took a rest, they matched their behavior to the one next to them, and I was able to capture this head-on.

Image: Two adult Emperor penguins resting on sea ice, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/8.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

There was even symmetry when they were looking in different directions as their bodies mirrored each other.

Image: Two adult Emperor penguins sliding on sea ice, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 360 mm, f/8.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Their behavior and stance also balanced well with the surrounding landscape as I caught these two in front of a beautiful light-blue iceberg.

Image: Two adult Emperor penguins on an iceberg, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 390 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

No matter the scenario, the peace was evident.

Image: Two adult Emperor penguins on an iceberg, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 220 mm, f/8.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

I will continue with the Antarctic journey and share more posts in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

You can view these images individually and more not posted here in my portfolio located here.

Author: Dr. Amy Novotny

Amy Novotny is a physical therapist, marathon/ultra runner and nature photographer. She treats patients for a variety of conditions but specializes in chronic pain and calming an overactive nervous system using special diaphragmatic breathing. She has used this technique to help her qualify and run in four Boston marathons! She enjoys the outdoors and can often be found running and hiking on trails in throughout Arizona. She attempts to capture the beauty of nature with her photography both locally in Arizona and also throughout the United States. She is becoming more interested in wildlife photography and attempting to capture the emotion of animal interactions. In her spare time, Amy volunteers as a photo guide for the Arizona Highways PhotoScapes nonprofit and shares her joy of nature with others. Please feel free to contact her regarding her photography, physical therapy or running.

8 thoughts on “Emperor Penguin Pals”

  1. Thank you so much Amy . it is truly a blessing to be able to be a part of this amazing adventure with you and the team you are with. Please thank all of them for use .And may God be with all of you. M@M 👏

    Liked by 1 person

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