Penguin Selfie Recorded in Antarctica
When expeditioner Eddie Gault set down his camera in Antarctica, it’s possible that he thought he’d capture some interesting penguin footage. However, it’s unlikely he knew that he would get a penguin selfie on camera! (1)
Gault, an Australian, was visiting Auster Rookery, a breeding ground for Emperor penguins. Not long after he placed his camera on the ground, a group of penguins waddled over to take a look. (1, 2)
In the video, you can see a penguin’s feet approaching, getting closer and closer until it actually knocks the camera over. Then, a penguin’s face appears from above. It is soon joined by another Emperor penguin. The pair lean down to inspect the camera, and it appears as if they’re taking a penguin selfie! (1)
Of all the types of penguins, Emperor penguins are the largest. They are 45 inches tall, on average, and can weigh up to 88 pounds. In the wild, their lifespan is 15 to 20 years. (3)
Emperor penguins are used to living in harsh conditions, where wind chills can dip as low as -76°F. The birds’ bodies have adapted to this climate, but they also work together to stay warm and survive. Penguins will huddle together in groups to conserve warmth and avoid the wind. Their cooperation is so well-coordinated that they take turns spending time in the warmth of the inner circle. Once a penguin warms up, it rotates to the outside of the huddle so another penguin can enjoy the heat. (3)
Emperor penguins actually breed during the winter. After females lay their eggs, they leave right away for a two-month hunting trip, during which they travel up to 50 miles to the open ocean to feed. While they’re away, the males watch over the eggs, standing over them and covering them with a flap of skin called a brood patch to keep them warm. (3)
The female penguins return around the time the chicks hatch and feed them with regurgitated food. The males, who don’t eat for the two-month period when the females are away, take off for their own hunting trip. The mothers take over protecting the chicks with their brood pouches until spring. (3)
Auster Rookery, where Gault was visiting when his camera captured the penguin selfie, is located near Mawson Station, one of Australia’s Antarctic research stations. Researchers from Mawson took a day trip to Auster Rookery in 2018. Trent Nichols, an electrician, recorded their experience on the Australian Antarctic Division’s website. (1, 2)
As they approached the rookery, Nichols described walking through “an iceberg alleyway”. He wrote, “the icebergs are taller than city buildings, like canyons with rows of penguins traveling in single file in and out of the rookery.” (2)
Once the group emerged from the alleyway, they found themselves in the open space of the rookery, which is sheltered by icebergs. Nichols observed hundreds of Emperor penguins, both adults and chicks.
To Nichols and his companions, the setting was magical. He included some photos of the trip with his account and wrote, “You don’t need to be a professional photographer, or have state-of-the-art camera gear, to capture a beautiful, Nat Geo type image here: just point, shoot and capture whatever is in front of you.” And if you leave your camera unattended, you might just capture a penguin selfie.