The Joy of Watching Adélies

"They are extraordinarily like children, these little people of the Antarctic world, either like children or little old men, full of their own importance." -Apsley Cherry-Garrard, who wrote of seeing Adélie penguins during his time on Robert F. Scott's final expedition to the South Pole in his book The Worst Journey in the World (fun title!).

An Adélie penguin on Edwards Island #4 in the Amundsen Sea, Antarctica.
An adult Adélie penguin (*Pygoscelis adeliae*) stands in the snow on Edwards Island #4 in the Southern Ocean off the southwest coast of Antarctica.

I was lucky enough to see some Adélie penguins up close this past week and I don't think I have ever witnessed an animal that demonstrates such a total and wholehearted commitment to getting from here to there, no matter the obstacles. And when you are a two foot tall bird, dressed in a thick feather tuxedo, with stubby little legs and wings that are entirely ineffective on land, trying to make your way over craggy ice peaks and slippery rocks, almost everything is an obstacle. But they tirelessly trudge along with determination and resignation, chests forward and wings back, falling down and getting back up, disinterested in the wonder of the world around them, always waddling. I'm disappointed I can't share a video but I'm hopeful that my photos and this description will spark your imagination and curiosity - and perhaps there are already videos of Adélie penguins walking on YouTube.

An Adélie penguin on Edwards Island #4 in the Amundsen Sea
An adult Adélie penguin (*Pygoscelis adeliae*) walks past researchers working on Edwards Island #4 in the Amundsen Sea off the southwest coast of Antarctica.

Adélie penguins on Edwards Island #10 in the Amundsen Sea
Adélie penguins in motion on Edwards Island #10 in the Amundsen Sea off the southwest coast of Antarctica.

Author
Date
Coordinates
74° 24' 14" S , 103° 16' 16" W
Location
Onboard the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer in the Amundsen Sea off the southwest coast of Antarctica.
Weather Summary
Gray skies and light winds.
Temperature
-0.5˚C
Wind Chill
-11.4˚C
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Comments

Louis Bonini

Matthew would like you to bring a penguin back with you.

Are you capturing the pictures in your posts?

Yahaili wants a polar bear. Anthony explained that polar bears are in the Artic not Antartic.

Are you seeing the animals as you are posting?

Have you seen any calving of the glacier or of the icebergs?

Did the penguins get scared of the human interlopers?

Are you getting any big waves right now?

What countries are the other people on the trip from?

What other animals from your bingo game have you seen?

Louis Bonini

Were you able to feed a penguin?

Can you update us on the name you picked for the float?

Are the pictures you are taking from the boat? Or are you getting to go to the small islands?

Are you able to catch a fish that you can then eat on the ship?

Has it rained since you've been on the boat? How about snow?

Louis Bonini

What is the time difference from where you are and where we are?

Patti Bottino Bravo

I want one too!!! Bring one home for Matthew and one for me!! The pictures are great and really do capture their movement, especially the photo with the three of them. That is a GREAT shot.