Australian expeditioners in the Antarctic have been having very close encounters with the local penguin population.
The emperor penguin chick above, looking very like a character from the movie Happy Feet, was snapped by Australian Antarctic expeditioner Shane Bilston.
He says taking the photograph documents one of the most amazing experiences of his life.
Shane had been patiently lying on the ice, with the temperature hovering around -20C when this group wandered up to him, the curious chick leading the way.
“The chick was standing there, scratching its head with its foot; I just happened to push the button on my camera at the right time,” he says.
Auster Rookery is located on the sea ice about 51km east of Australia’s Mawson research station.
The station opened in 1954 and the Emperor colony was discovered by Flight Officer Douglas Johnston in August 1957. Douglas was flying an Auster aircraft, which the colony is now named after. Auster is the largest Emperor penguin colony along the Mawson coast, with about 11,000 breeding pairs.
Matt McKay, part of a team of Australian Antarctic Program expeditioners working at Casey research station, was out with his colleagues in small boats in Newcombe Bay collecting water samples for a research project when he took this video of an unexpected visitor – an Adélie penguin.
In one day, they had eight curious penguins drop in to check out their work.
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