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Emperor Penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri)

Ross Sea, Antarctica


During the winter months in Antarctica, the continent will double in size. This is because the frozen surface of the Ross Sea creates a solid layer of what is known as pack ice. Emperor Penguins, which are endemic to Antarctica, will have a harder time reaching food sources because of the vast amount of pack ice that goes on for miles beyond their nesting area. The Emperor Penguins in the top photograph were in a celebratory state after a Russian icebreaker ship had broken through the miles of pack ice, providing them with a gigantic shortcut to their oceanic food. These penguins can swim to depths well over 1000 feet at a rate of around 5 mph. After exiting the ocean, the penguins will toboggan (slide on their bellies) and then stand to walk with teetering steps.

(Photograph taken in November 2008 by James W. Mahoney, Jr., West Palm Beach, Florida.)