The emperors' march
March of the emperor penguins and breeding time at Auster
Last week I had the privilege of being part of the first group to Auster rookery this season. It is roughly 60 km from Mawson station and has a current population of approximately 4000 emperor penguins. To be bluntly honest, since returning I have thought about it heaps and when asked about it I haven’t said a lot to others for a couple of reasons.
For me, it’s something that has to be experienced. It is not just about seeing the emperor penguins, it is about seeing the abundance of life when we are in such a remote place where life is scarce on the ice. It is about hearing the noises they make as they call out and slap each other with their wings and in the distance a gunshot sound goes off signalling an ice cliff has collapsed or part of an iceberg.
It is the amazement of your own body wearing all these clothes in −25°C and yet, after an hour of taking photos, finding my feet frozen and having to do exercises for 30 minutes just to get feeling back. Yet, here they are, such a hardy animal, braving all elements with a few feathers and bare feet?
Furthermore, the colours and size of the penguins, of the icebergs, the distant ice shelves and the sky could never be stitched together in a picture to truly give a proper illustration of the majestic beauty in the scene that was before us.
Most places I have been in the world, people have worked with animals by creating nature reserves or leaving large areas of natural vegetation. Here I felt we didn’t belong at all, with no rights, or by design, with a feeling of honour for being chosen by my country to be here and be able to witness this event with a huge amount of respect and humbleness as I looked upon nature taking its course.
Until next time,