Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) reside only in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. Large communities of Adélies can be found on the coastline in October, during the breeding season. They make nests by scooping out parts of the ground and lining it with pebbles and other small items they can find. Adélies, like many penguins species, are generally monogamous. Female and male Adélies take turns sitting on eggs to keep them warm and protect them from predators. Both males and females help rear the young, and bring food to the other parent who is doing his/her shift on the nest. Despite a lack of people living on Antarctica, climate change has hit the continent, especially on the Antarctic Peninsula in the Western Hemisphere. All the effects of climate change—including things like warmer temperatures, decreased sea ice during certain times of year, precipitation falling as rain—are making life more difficult for Adélies, and several populations are in decline. Observing Adélies, the smallest penguin in the Southern Ocean, is something I miss incredibly. Humans tend to identify with animals that have human-like qualities, and observing families (of Adélies and other penguins) work together makes your heart go out to them even more.
Photo and haiku: Samantha Oester