The Emperors of Cape Washington

The chicks flock to Alex

(Alex) When most people think of Antarctica, they think about penguins. The iconic penguin of the 18 different species is probably the Emperor Penguin. After all, many people have seen the movies Happy Feet or March of the Penguins featuring the Emperor Penguins. I was fortunate to spend time with the real things!

In Antarctica, we spent time with two particular species of penguins: the Adelie and the Emperor. Both penguin species have their own personality: the Adelies are perky and entertaining while the Emperors — like their namesake — are regal and superior. Cape Washington is home to one of biggest Emperor Penguin colonies in the world. And our arrival at the cape was timed perfectly. In late December this year, the Emperor Penguin chicks happened to be fledging, getting ready for their first swims and available for pictures. Coming into Cape Washington, we were greeted by thousands of Emperor Penguins (adult and chick), Adelie Penguins, a leopard seal on the hunt and a huge pod of orcas. A group of adorable, little, fluffy penguins met us at our zodiac landing site where we had eight hours to walk around on the ice.

Each Emperor chick chooses its own "outfit"

These little penguins are just like teenagers, still growing at a rapid pace. They waddle clumsily from side to side, falling over, then getting back up again as if nothing had happened. Plus, each has his/her own little personal outfit. The more stylish chicks fashion their moulting feathers into different heart shapes, while others just get big blobs of ugly. Actually, their feathers are naturally changed into different shapes, colors and patterns depending on penguin. But no matter what they look like, each little creature is adorable. I wish I could take one home with me!!

The highlight was when I lay down on the ice in front of a group of about 100 chicks. Because I was down on their level, they passed right by me and some even came close to investigate. Eight hours passed by so quickly that when it was time to go, I felt like I could have stayed forever! I loved watching the Emperors and wish I could have spent more time with them. Oh well, I guess that means that I will have to come back again!!

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3 Responses to “The Emperors of Cape Washington”


  2. Awesome post…well written! Are you sure you did not spray paint a heart on the one penguin? Miss everyone….sorry I could not have been a stowaway on you Antarctic adventure!!!!! Think of you 4 every time I stop in Abercrombie..don’t stay long because of the loud music!!!!!!
    Hugs to all. xoxo bibi

  3. Waaw, I would have loved to be there with you to watch penguins and slide in the snow with them, just like in Happy Feet… (one of my favorite movies btw).

    I’m back in Canada after our adventure in Ecuador since a week and having fun with my new friends in kindergarden (not as much as with you and your brothers and sister, though :-)).

    I have been playing in the snow but i’m not sure i like it… I’m still in the testing fase.

    That’s all for now, it’s time to go and spill food on the floor (mum and dad call it souper).

    Miss all of you,

    Little Alexe