Penguin video!

I have a lot of videos from Antarctica, including one I didn’t think I had. I’ll show that one today, even though it’s short.  As I mentioned in a post on November 20, on a day when we couldn’t do a “landing” on the continent or an island, the captain of the Roald Amundsen plowed the ship into thick pack ice and let us get out and walk on it. That was a rare experence. But even rarer, we encountered Adelie penguins on the pack ice. As I wrote then:

We also had a magical moment, but only a few people saw it. When I was standing at the end of our permitted walkway (demarcated by orange cones), I suddenly saw three black specks approaching us from a distance. They were moving fast, and as they came closer I saw that they were three Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) tobogganing towards us on the ice, moving on their bellies and pushing themselves along with their flippers. It was amazing how fast they came towards us: they can toboggan much faster than they can walk.

I tried to remove my gloves to make a video, but they were too fast: as they approached us, they took a gander and then turned around and quickly tobogganed away. I frantically snapped pictures with gloved hands, unable to see the viewfinder in the glare.

It turns out I did make a video but didn’t know it until today: my gloved hands apparently pressed the button at the right time but also pressed the “stop” button. And so here’s a short video of three Adelies coming at us on their bellies, propelling themselves with their wings. So cute! It’s only six seconds long, but it shows what we saw. And now I see they were using their feet as well as their wings; in fact, the wings seem to be used mostly for steering.

Watch it full screen to see their little feet kicking.


I got two pictures, too, which I published before but in lower resolution. Here is an Adelie in all its glory. The first one looks as if it’s dancing.

And after it turned tail and moved away with its buddies.

A lot more videos (and a few posts) will be coming in the next weeks.


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Fine looking penguins. Built in sled system.
    Looks a bit chilly.

  2. GBJames
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    That’s a very cool video snippet.

  3. Posted December 1, 2019 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations for capturing that!

    Back when I was in college my roommates invented a silly song that they sang with great frequency, the words are still burned into my brain:

    “Penguins have no naaaavels,
    No navels have a penguin.
    They have no navels so they can slide on their bellies
    At speeds of up to twenty-five miles per hour,
    Per hour!
    And that’s pretty fast….”

  4. rickflick
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Like children on sleds! They must be enjoying their austere setting.

  5. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 1, 2019 at 5:49 pm | Permalink


  6. Posted December 1, 2019 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    Great capture, Jerry! I wonder why they were enthusiastically approaching you folks. Could it be that, at a distance, they thought you were eligible penguins?

  7. Posted December 2, 2019 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    What hapless but yet elegant creatures!

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