Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Emperor Penguins!

These emperors might be wondering if the plane forgot them . . .

or they might just be molting (the green snow is guano. The grey/black bits are feathers).

I always have trouble finding the words to describe Antarctic moments, so I am going to start out today by borrowing some raw words from someone else, "Holy s**t, i am in Antarctica. it is f'g beautiful here-- the clouds framing the mountains over a sea of ice... God, am i lucky." These words are so true and say more about some of my experiences that my words ever could. They aren't the most refined or descriptive, but they capture the emotion of the experience. Loren scores lots of points for summing it up simply, knocking down walls, arriving on time three times in one day, and being brilliant even if she hasn't been to Chedd's. (Does anyone know if Chedd's reopened in Denver?)

This one is a little shy about having his picture taken and I'm loving my zoom lens.

After a week of hearing about four emperor penguins on the Pegasus road, I finally made it out to see them. These were my first emperors and I was barely able to sit in my seat. I had heard they were lost and waiting for directions. I had heard that they were wandering off to die, but they usually do that by themselves. However, these penguins were there to molt. They spend three to four weeks standing there and waiting for their adolescent feathers to fall off. I'm not sure why they can't go about their normal lives while they molt.

This is my favorite because of the last few adolescent feathers on the left fin.

I'm stuck again. I can't find the words. Antarctic moments make all the mundane times worth it. They are what we sign on to experience. They are what we tell people about when they want to hear about the program. However, they also don't define the program. Our social relationships are what keep us coming back. On the other hand, I don't think I'd be coming back if I never got out.

After hopping out of our vehicle, we were alone with the penguins. They didn't make a noise. They didn't even acknowledge that we had showed up. These were not the curious penguins that everyone talked about from earlier in the season. They were just there to molt and go on about their way. Yet, it was still magical. All they had to do was stand there in a sea of ice and let the wind pull out their adolescent feathers one by one to be amazing. Penguins, especially emperor penguins, are one of the defining features of Antarctica. They are what everyone asks about when you say you have been to Antarctica. As uninteresting as a stationary animal should be, they were great. They were inspiring. They've opened up my imagination again. They've reminded me, "it is [so] beautiful here . . . God, am i lucky."

Emperor penguins and White Island.


  1. Wow. Just, wow. I think you did a good job of conveying what it's like to be there, at least a bit.

  2. thanks for blogging brody!
    oddly enough? reading it has helped me feel a little less far from home.

  3. :-) you are right. some things just cannot be described and some experiences are just so magical that it will forever be indented in our memory.

    amazing pictures. you are lucky!