6b1e7f2.jpg

Despite some pretty nasty hygiene, penguins are pretty cool- and a lot of fun to wander around. We had a couple of opportunities to visit areas with substantial populations of penguins, and it was always entertaining to watch and interact with them.

6b1e802.jpg

Wildlife engagement rules dictate staying a minimum of 15' away, however you are not required to move back if they approach you- and they do, frequently. They are quite curious of visitors, especially those with bright clothing (that pretty much includes almost all Antarctic tourists), and seem to feel completely at ease around humans.

6b1e812.jpg

They greet you with an 'ack-ack-ack' (that Aaron got down quite well), and pretty much go about their business, which  includes territorial squabbles, rearranging pebbles, pooping (a favorite), learning to swim, and avoiding leopard seals.

6b1e831.jpg

The chicks are large at this time of the year- larger than their parents in many cases, are losing their downy feathers, constantly beg Mom for food, and have to learn to swim soon, as winter is coming. If they can't swim, they'll die.

6b1e841.jpg

As awkward as they are on land, they are equally graceful in the water and swim with remarkable ease. Their primary food supply is krill, a small shrimp-like crustacean abundant in coastal Antarctica.

6b1e850.jpg

Primarily we saw Gentoo penguins, identifiable by the white patch on their heads, but also saw some Adelie penguins (all black head) and Chinstrap penguins (yes, they have a narrow black 'chinstrap').

6b1e860.jpg

We had to adhere to strict ecological rules aboard the ship, which included being sure we brought no contaminants aboard the ship. If an excursion included walking on land, and especially around penguins, we were required to scrub all remnants from our boots at a special wash station before removal and storage. This ensured we would not spread any biological organisms from site to site.

6b1e87f.jpg