The Dance of the Pelican

Image: Brown pelican walking on a cliff, San Diego, California. Nikon D500, Nikkor 70-200 mm at 190 mm, f/5, 1/1600 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

During the two recent morning photography shoots in San Diego, we caught glimpses of the Brown pelicans walking along the cliff ledges. Their walk was more of a dance with their careful foot placement and use of their wings to steady their balance.

Image: Brown pelican walking on a cliff, San Diego, California. Nikon D500, Nikkor 70-200 mm at 190 mm, f/5, 1/1600 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

They gracefully lifted one foot and then the other to move forward along the edge. It was quite a display as they timed their wings and feet in a synchronous movement.

Image: Brown pelican walking on a cliff, San Diego, California. Nikon D500, Nikkor 70-200 mm at 190 mm, f/5, 1/1600 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

As this non-breeding adult (as indicated by the white head and neck feathers) made its way to the edge of the cliff, it kept its focus and attention on its movements.

Image: Brown pelican walking on a cliff, San Diego, California. Nikon D500, Nikkor 70-200 mm at 190 mm, f/5, 1/1600 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

Eventually the pelican stopped and readied its wings for its eventual liftoff.

Image: Brown pelican spreading its wings on a cliff, San Diego, California. Nikon D500, Nikkor 70-200 mm at 145 mm, f/5, 1/1600 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

The launch began with a squat and a stretching of its wings high overhead to generate a force when the wings descended during the liftoff.

Image: Brown pelican beginning to launch on a cliff, San Diego, California. Nikon D500, Nikkor 70-200 mm at 150 mm, f/5, 1/1600 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

The last bit of this sequence of images involved the feet stretching on tiptoe before liftoff. Then this magnificent bird launched into the air, flying out to sea on a hunt for a morning meal.

Image: Brown pelican launching off a cliff, San Diego, California. Nikon D500, Nikkor 70-200 mm at 145 mm, f/5, 1/1600 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held.

I’ll continue to share more about San Diego in the next few posts. They should still be around if you are in the area! 

You can view these images individually in my portfolio located here.

San Diego Beauties

Image: Brown pelican, San Diego, CA. Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/5.6, 1/320 sec, ISO 1000

I’m taking a short break in my tales of the Antarctic to bring you a little bit of San Diego’s wildlife. This past weekend I joined some friends in San Diego to explore the abundant birdlife in the area. This is a great time to go visit the Brown pelicans that have changed into the breeding plumage for the next couple weeks. They are quite stunning with the various colors and richness in the reddish-brown skin along their throats and necks. Those with yellow heads and red necks are prime for breeding as shown above. We saw some with white heads and necks and learned that they are considered non-breeding adults, such as in the image below.

Image: Brown pelican non-breeding adult, San Diego, CA. Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 360 mm, f/5.6, 1/320 sec, ISO 1000

We spotted some juveniles in the colony as well. They were easily recognized due to the lack of color change in their feathers around their heads and necks.

Image: A juvenile Brown pelican rests on a cliff, San Diego, CA. Nikon D500, Nikkor 70-200mm at 200 mm, f/8.0, 1/1600 sec, ISO 500

It was mostly cloudy both days over the weekend with some rain on the first day, so the light was quite low. Many of the birds spent the morning preening their feathers on the cliff edge.

Image: Brown pelican preens, San Diego, CA. Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/5.6, 1/200 sec, ISO 1000

The way they could contort their heads and necks to reach their backs or under their wings was impressive and allowed me to focus once again on the lines and curves of their bodies in my images.

Image: Brown pelican preens, San Diego, CA. Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 400 mm, f/7.1, 1/400 sec, ISO 800

Even the juveniles were focused on their task to ensure they preened all their feathers.

Image: Brown pelican juvenile preens, San Diego, CA. Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 420 mm, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO 1000

Occasionally, we caught a pelican stretching before take off. This stretch was quite a process and happened so fast that it was hard to capture the full sequence on camera. The series below are different birds that I was able to photograph in the various stages of the neck pull. In the image below, the pelican begins to stretch its head back and push the extra pouch of skin in its throat forward.

Image: Brown pelican beginning a neck stretch, San Diego, CA. Nikon D500, Nikkor 70-200mm at 175 mm, f/8.0, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400

It then lifts its head up and fully stretches the pouch of skin as it cocks its head back. This pouch of extra skin is used for scooping up fish that it catches and then swallows.

Image: Brown pelican beginning a neck stretch, San Diego, CA. Nikon D500, Nikkor 70-200mm at 200 mm, f/5.0, 1/1600 sec, ISO 1000

As it continues to stretch its head back, the skin pouch begins to cover the head.

Image: Brown pelican performing a neck stretch, San Diego, CA. Nikon D500, Nikkor 70-200mm at 150 mm, f/5.0, 1/1600 sec, ISO 1000

Eventually the throat pouch covers most of the pelican’s head before it ends the stretch and returns back to normal. Shortly after this event, we saw each of these pelicans fly away, possibly in search of its morning meal.

Image: Brown pelican performing a neck stretch, San Diego, CA. Nikon D750, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/8.0, 1/400 sec, ISO 500

I’ll continue to share more about San Diego in the next few posts and I encourage you to go visit these amazing birds if you are in the area!

You can view these images individually in my portfolio located here.

Emperors on their feet

Image: An adult Emperor penguin, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 280 mm, f/8, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

On their feet, the adult Emperors stood 3.5-4 feet tall. We often found them resting upright and observing the scene of the colony. It was an incredible sight to see on the pure white ice with blue icebergs in the background. Their method of transitioning from gliding on their stomach to standing was quite comical. They often put their beaks into the ice to brace themselves and then used their flippers to push against the ice until they could generate enough force to lift their bellies.

Image: An adult Emperor penguin trying to stand up, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 240 mm, f/8, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

They then lifted their head and rocked back onto their feet, occasionally taking a mouthful of ice with them as they stood upright.

Image: An adult Emperor penguin trying to stand up, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 300 mm, f/8, 1/3200 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Sometimes when they had enough strength, they were able to push themselves vertical without the use of their beak or head. You can see this process in the video below.

Once they made it on their feet, they frequently stretched fully, allowing us to get a true grasp of their 4-foot stature.

Image: An adult Emperor penguin stretching tall, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/8, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We also captured glimpses of them shaking and ruffling their feathers. It was quite a sight as they turned their heads back and forth several times with their wings spread out to the sides.

Image: An adult Emperor penguin shaking, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 340 mm, f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As described in an earlier post, there was a lot of preening time, typically when standing. It gave me an opportunity to photograph the beautiful curves in their feather coloration.

Image: An adult Emperor penguin preening, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 250 mm, f/8, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Their balancing acts were quite impressive as well. I never saw one fall during these preening sessions although I did see some stumble a few times when traversing the sea ice.

Image: An adult Emperor penguin preening, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 230 mm, f/8, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

When they walked, it wasn’t always with the grace of some of their poses. At times, they were hunched over as if in deep thought.

Image: An adult Emperor penguin walking, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 210 mm, f/8, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Other times, they were a bit more upright. When the background scene added to the overall composition, I zoomed out a little and waited for just the right moment to capture them with their foot out during a step.

Image: An adult Emperor penguin walking, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 250 mm, f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

When the penguins paused in their walks, I watched for pleasing backgrounds to add to the images. It gave me a chance to include some of the actual land of Antarctica, as you can see on the left in the image below. Although we were walking around on a hard surface, I had to keep reminding myself that I was walking on water and that the ocean was beneath me.

Image: An adult Emperor penguin, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 270 mm, f/8, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

At times, the penguins climbed the icebergs and posed on them. Although the Emperors were the highlight and main reason I was there, I enjoyed the textures in the ice and tried to capture that in my images.

Image: An adult Emperor penguin on an iceberg, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/8, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Despite their down-to-earth manner of getting up and walking, they were truly majestic.

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

Belly Time for the Emperor Adults

Image: Adult Emperor penguin resting on its stomach, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 280 mm, f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400.

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.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin sleeping, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 420 mm, f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400.

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!

Image: Adult Emperor penguin stretching on its stomach, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400.

They really got into their stretches by opening their mouths and the one below even added in its legs to the full body stretch!

Image: Adult Emperor penguin stretching on its stomach, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 390 mm, f/8, 1/1250 sec, ISO 400.

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!

Image: Adult Emperor penguin eating ice on its stomach, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 220 mm, f/8, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400.

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.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin eating ice on its stomach, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 310 mm, f/8, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400.

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.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin propelling itself on its stomach, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400.

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.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin propelling itself on its stomach, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 220 mm, f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400.

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.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin propelling itself on its stomach, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400.

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.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin propelling itself on its stomach, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 240 mm, f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400.

And of course, this series of images would not be complete without seeing the backside of an Emperor leaving me! 🙂

Image: Adult Emperor penguin propelling itself on its stomach, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 270 mm, f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 400.

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.

Adult Emperors Up Close

Image: Adult Emperor penguin, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/8.0, 1/1250 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

The scene at the emperor penguin colony was one of beauty but also one of chaos for a photographer. The scenes were stunning, but it was hard to capture artistic and visually-balanced compositions with thousands of birds moving around. After capturing some of the landscape shots with the penguins as shown in my previous post here, I switched to capturing images of the penguins up close. Initially, it was difficult to isolate some of birds and have an appealing background at the same time, but patience paid off. As the penguins got accustomed to us sitting and watching, they began to move around the colony at relative ease. For this post, I am focusing only on the adult Emperor penguins.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin stretching, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 360 mm, f/8.0, 1/1250 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

The male and females are indistinguishable in terms of their plumage and size so we did not know which gender of bird was caring for the chicks at this time. Both males and females weight 49-99 lbs depending on the season and reach a height of 3.5-4 feet. The majority of the penguins we saw were on the shorter side of that scale. The activity level of the penguins varied greatly in the colony. Some adults slept peacefully, either lying on the ice to cool down during their nap or nodding off vertically, using their body as a cushion.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin sleeping, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/8.0, 1/1250 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Other adults spent time preening and scratching during the daylight. They contorted their bodies in many configurations to reach all aspects of their bodies. Not only did this give me a view of all their body parts, but it also allowed me to capture images of the various curves and lines in their coloration.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin scratching, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/8.0, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

A few times, I even got lucky enough to capture an image inside their beaks to demonstrate the rearward-facing barbs on the roof of their mouths. These barbs assist them when swallowing the slippery fish they eat.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin scratching, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 340 mm, f/8.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Occasionally after a preening session, the adults shook their bodies and ruffled up their feathers. I happened to be taking some photos of an adult penguin’s feet at that time and caught the resulting ruffle at its feet. As you can see in the image below, there are extra skin folds at the bottom of the torso that help to shelter the egg and chick from the harsh Antarctic winters.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin feet after ruffling feathers, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 440 mm, f/8.0, 1/2000 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

The patterns in their feathers gave them a look of vibrant elegance. Although we saw some birds with dirty stomachs from sliding on the ice, the majority of them were clean with contrasting black and creamy white pattern on their backsides and flippers.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin preening, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/8.0, 1/1250 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

The coloration of the feathers on their chest was mesmerizing as the creamy white shimmered in the sunlight. I tried to capture this sparkle in the image below but did not do nearly the justice it deserves.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin chest, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

It was often hard to capture the faces of the adults clearly because their eye was so black and matched the feathers on their heads. Occasionally I could capture the white of their eyes if the light hit their face at the correct moment when their head was turned.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin resting, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 400 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

One of the more emotional positions of the adults happened when they made their soulful call, as they often bowed their head in almost a reverent gesture.

Image: Adult Emperor penguin bowing and calling, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/8.0, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

To hear a little bit of that call and to see how the penguins move in their colony, please click on the video below.

As I process more images, I will continue to post to show more about their behavior and their interactions with their chicks.

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

Made it at last–The Emperors

Imagine a place where human beings do not matter, a place where our physical presence was of no importance except perhaps a slight curiosity.  This is the world I stepped into on Day 5 of our Antarctica expedition.  As I walked just over a kilometer from our base tent to the colony on sea ice, I tried to take it in.  I was walking on the Southern Ocean, technically the Weddell Sea.  The land of Snow Hill Island was ahead of me, but I would not actually set foot on that land.  This species of birds lived their whole life without stepping foot on terra firma, as they build their colony on sea ice in the winter and spring during breeding season and then live in the water during the summer months when the ice melts.  

Image: Emperor penguin colony, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 260 mm, f/8, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We had guidelines in place to protect these animals and the colony.  Our path was set at least 30 meters away from the colony to give it space.  If the penguins approached us, that was acceptable, but we were not to reach out and touch them.  We were to move slowly and if a penguin came near, we were advised to get low and allow it to move around us.  There was so much to see and observe.  As I approached the colony, I saw another passenger kneeling to get a photo of a penguin that had walked up to him.  I stopped with all my gear packed away and knelt down to watch.  My patience and observation was rewarded as the penguin ambled over to me and came within two feet of me.  I posted that picture taken with my iPhone here.  As I got closer to the colony, I took out two camera setups-one I had intended for wildlife and one for landscape.   I ended up using my telephoto lens for some landscape shots as well, as seen in the image below.

Image: Emperor penguin colony, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 230 mm, f/8, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

The light and scenery were spectacular.  The light was not too harsh and the temperature was in the 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit range the first day.  The colony was quite large and spanned a couple square kilometers.  We visited one part of the colony on the first day and were given up to 9.5 hours at the colony.  If we wanted to eat during the day, we had to walk back to the base tent to eat inside the tent to ensure no food particles were left on the sea ice.  I skipped eating, as I did not want to leave the colony for one second.  

Image: Emperor penguin colony, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 24 mm, f/16, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As you can see in the image above and below, protruding from the sea ice were bluish icebergs that had been trapped by the sea as it froze.  It added great texture for the landscape. 

Image: Emperor penguin colony, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 48 mm, f/18, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

We found the birds in a variety of positions.  They alternated between walking on their feet and sliding across the ice on their bellies.  Since the temperature was quite warm for them, many laid down on their bellies to rest and cool down.

Image: Emperor penguin colony, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 240 mm, f/8, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

Occasionally we saw a gull or a skua fly overhead.  These birds are one of the predators to the Emperors, the others being leopard seals and killer whales when the penguins are swimming in the sea.  The gulls and skuas flew overhead looking for a young chick they could pick off.  Luckily, I did not see them have any success.

Image: Emperor penguin colony, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 240 mm, f/8, 1/2500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

It was hard to wrap my mind around the fact that human presence has not yet instilled fear or another permanent behavior change in this species.  Despite having 120 humans walking around in bright yellow parkas photographing these birds, a single gull flying overhead sent the chicks running for cover with their parents.  They knew the meaning of a flying bird.  Although our immediate physical presence did not have that same meaning, I knew that we still have impacted these animals through global climate change and its impact on sea ice as I described here.   

Image: Emperor penguin colony, Snow Hill Island, Antarctica. Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-70 mm at 44 mm, f/16, 1/500 sec, ISO 400, hand-held.

As the available sea ice has reduced over the years due to climate change, the colony has moved closer and closer to land.  Scientists are studying these species and trying to learn more about their habits and lifestyle.  There are many success stories in the conservation world and I hope that as we continue to learn more, we can take steps to minimize or reverse our direct and indirect impact on all species, including the Emperors.  

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

Helicoptering to Snow Hill Island

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Image: A view of Kapitan Khlebnikov in the Weddell Sea from a helicopter, Antarctica. iPhone 7 Plus, hand-held.

When we woke up on Day 5, I went up to the bridge to capture a shot of where we were on the computer map.  The ship had made it to a mere 6 miles from the colony!

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Image: A computer map of our location in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. iPhone 7 Plus, hand-held.

All of the passengers were divided up into 6 groups and I was one of the earlier groups to head out to the island that day.  Since we were so close to the island, the ride was only 5-10 minutes, depending on which helicopter I rode in.  

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Image: The Russian helicopter that transported passengers to Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. iPhone 7 Plus, hand-held.

As we took off, I attempted to capture various shots of the scenery and ship in the surrounding sea ice.  It was quite a sight. I was too nervous to use my DSLR camera since this was my first helicopter ride and I wasn’t sure how steady it would be, so I used my iPhone to capture all of the images in this blog post.

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Image: A view of Kapitan Khlebnikov in the Weddell Sea from a helicopter, Antarctica. iPhone 7 Plus, hand-held.

We flew over miles of sea ice in the Weddell Sea and I saw large icebergs protruding from the flat ice.  Occasionally I saw a large solitary seal, but I was unable to identify the species.   As we got closer to the iceberg shown below, I realized that we were close to our landing location marked by a flag.

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Image: An iceberg surrounded by sea ice in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. iPhone 7 Plus, hand-held from a helicopter.

Upon landing on the sea ice, we were directed to the bright yellow tent for further instructions.  The tent was about a mile away from the Emperor penguin colony and served several purposes.  It was a refuge against the cold temperatures but also contained food and water since no food was allowed at the colony to preserve the wilderness.  

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Image: The base tent on sea ice near Snow Hill Island in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. iPhone 7 Plus, hand-held from a helicopter.

After walking carefully to the tent, I turned around to see the helicopter take off to fly back to the ship to pick up the next round of passengers.  With two helicopters flying at the same time, all passengers made it to the island in about 2 hours (by 8:30am).  

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Image: Our helicopter taking off from sea ice in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. iPhone 7 Plus, hand-held.

I was fascinated by the helicopters landing on the sea ice next to Snow Hill Island and took a short video of that scene.

After learning that we were allowed to stay 9.5 hours at the colony with the penguins, I began the trek across the sea ice following the flags and footsteps of those before me.  The Emperor penguins were awaiting…

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Image: The makeshift path to the Emperor penguin colony on sea ice in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. iPhone 7 Plus, hand-held.