Female Emperor penguins lay one precious egg which is incubated by the male while the female heads back for the sea to feed. Once the chick is born, both parents alternate between taking care of the chick at the colony and foraging at sea. But when the chicks grow older en larger, it is very common for both parents to go off to the waters edge of the sea ice to feed.
By the time we visited most chicks had formed a crèche and it was very rare to see family scenes like this.
During our first zodiac tour in Antarctica we came across this gruesome scene: a Leopard seal had just caught an Adélie penguin.
When hunting penguins, the Leopard seal patrols the waters near the edges of the ice, almost completely submerged, waiting for the birds to enter the ocean.
It kills the swimming bird by grabbing the feet, then shaking the penguin vigorously and beating its body against the surface of the water repeatedly until the penguin is dead. We saw all of this happening from our zodiacs, it took about 10 to 15 minutes for the poor Adélie to die.
What you see in the first two shots is the decapitated head of the Adélie penguin in the mouth of the Leopard seal. In the last two photos the remains of the penguin body are gobbled in.
What is it that mum gentoo gives her chicks to eat? On the internet I read “Gentoos live mainly on crustaceans, such as krill, with fish making up only about 15% of the diet”. In this photo it looks like a piece of solid white fish to me.
Parental care in the rockhopper colony, just before the sun disappeared behind the mountains.
Feeding time for the gentoo toddlers.
Life in the breeding area on the hills near the Rookery Inn on Saunders Island on my last evening of this photo trip.
It was just before the sun disappeared behind the mountains, creating shadows on the scenes I wanted to depict.
Like these parenting and feeding photos.
For video footage, please follow me on Facebook and visit this link.
King penguin parent feeding its chick.
Wryneck ready to feed its chicks.