I received a large volume of feedback from my readers about my series of Antarctica posts in 2010. A majority of the comments boiled down to the simple suggestion, “more penguins please.” Since I’m a responsive sort, here goes:
Adélies feed mainly on krill, small fish, and squid, which involves entering the sea. One of the behaviors that struck the early explorers (and me as well) is how Adélies check for pedators, such as leopard seals, in the water.
A group assembles (above), then pushes someone over the edge. They wait (below) to see if anything bad happens to the guy in the water. If carnage does not ensue, then they all jump in and hunt for their food.
I also love watching how penguins belly-slide down slopes …
… shoot past like missiles …
… and occasionally look around to see what they’re missing.
Of course, collisions sometimes occur when folks take their eyes off the road.
Quite a few Adélies came by to check us out during the 90 minutes we were half buried in snow at Cape Royds. The two folks below slid past, stopped, had an animated conversation, and then walked back to give me a good close look before continuing on their way.
The Adélie below was the most adventurous. He came all the way over, circled, chattered, and stayed until we turned to leave.
When not studying the penguins, I spent long stretches simply staring across the Sound at the glaciers of the Antarctica mainland or back at the slopes of Mt Erebus behind me. I took dozens of pictures of the views, but they all profoundly disappoint. The vast, intense, 360° beauty of Antarctica is impossible to capture in a small, frozen image.
As much as I would have liked to stay longer in the glorious environment of Cape Royds, we needed to move on to our second stop of the day. In my next three posts, I’ll talk about the early explorers’ huts that we visited, the other wildlife that we saw along the way, and the beauty and diversity of the ice formations around the McMurdo Sound.