Emperor penguins: A report from the Antarctic

Close up of a baby penguin. It has grey fur for the body, and black and white fur for the face. Its beak is black.
EarthSky friend Eliot Herman visited emperor penguins in Antarctica. Here’s Eliot’s portrait of an emperor penguin chick. Visit Eliot Herman on Flickr.

An expedition to see emperor penguins

EarthSky friend Eliot Herman took a trip to the Antarctic in late November. After more than 30 hours of flights, he and his wife reached Antarctica, where they got to observe a resident colony of emperor penguins. He shared his fantastic photos with us, and reported from the southern reaches of the world:

We flew to the interior and landed on an ice runway, then to a camp and finally ski-plane to the emperor penguin colony at Atka Bay. With reports of the penguins having reproductive problems, I was concerned about what I would see. The colony we saw had a large population of healthy chubby chicks. A photographer’s dream trip.

Eliot said the travel to get to and from Antarctica was long, but one he has wanted to do for many years. He said:

Seeing the emperors is special, few people do, only a very few of the cruise boats have a chance to go that deep into the Weddell Sea. They often fail, so the number of tourists who see the emperors each year cannot be more than 100 to 200.

The 2024 lunar calendars are here! Best Christmas gifts in the universe! Check ’em out here.

Photos of the expedition

Tens of penguins, both adults and chicks, on the snow. There is a blue sky and glaciers at the background.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Eliot Herman wrote: “Emperor penguins photographed at Atka Bay in the Antarctic. These penguins, the largest, are out of reach of most cruise ships. To visit the colony, you must fly to the Antarctic interior and then to the coast by a ski-plane.” Thank you, Eliot!
An adult and a chick with their beaks together. The neck of the adult forms an arc so the chick can reach the food.
Feeding an emperor penguin chick. Image via Eliot Herman/ Flickr.
2 grey chicks looking at each other in a ground covered by snow.
Emperor penguin chicks. They almost look as if, as human children sometimes do, they’re cooking up some new mischief! Image via Eliot Herman/ Flickr.

More emperor penguins

2 adults with a group of chicks. There are other chicks laying on the snow-covered ground in the background.
Adult emperor penguins monitoring a small group of chicks. Image via Eliot Herman/ Flickr.
Emperor penguins: An adult on the left, and a chick at the right. The adult looks black and white and has a yellowish neck. The chick has grey fur and a black and white face.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Eliot Herman in Atka Bay, Antarctica, took this image on November 26, 2023. Eliot wrote: “The emperor penguins – about 28,000 of them – lay eggs and hatch chicks. On the day of my visit, the chicks had grown to about 2/3 the size of the adults. In 2 to 3 weeks they’ll leave with the adults for the sea. The chicks are in groups that seemed analogous to a day care center. They act like toddlers, running from the adults and being chased back to the group, with some adults acting as ‘helicopter parents’. They’re curious and try to get the attention of humans.” Thank you, Eliot!

The heroes of the trip

Close up of a yellow and black penguin. It has short fur, and its eyes are almost closed. Its beak is black and orange.
Portrait of an emperor penguin. Image via Eliot Herman/ Flickr.
Man with sunglasses and a beard in the foreground. There are adult penguins and chicks at the background.
The photographer in situ: Eliot at the Atka Bay, Antarctica, emperor penguin colony. Image via Eliot Herman/ Flickr.
6 persons with big coats in front of a red, blue and whote plane. The ground is covered in snow.
Loading the Basler ski-plane after visiting the emperor penguins. Image via Eliot Herman/ Flickr.

See more images of the expedition at Eliot’s Flickr page

Read more on why emperor penguins are endangered

Bottom line: EarthSky friend Eliot Herman took a trip to the Antarctic, where he had the opportunity to visit emperor penguins in their colony. Read his report and enjoy his amazing images.

December 15, 2023

Like what you read?
Subscribe and receive daily news delivered to your inbox.

Your email address will only be used for EarthSky content. Privacy Policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

More from 

Cristina Ortiz

View All