If you are viewing this website on a tablet with either Android 4.0 or greater or any Apple tablet you must have flash player or an equivalent app in order to see 70% of my photos. If using a Windows based tablet, it already has flash player. However with column to left you must click on right arrow and not the text. You can also navigate this website by clicking on the links in the text or at the bottom links of each page.
Welcome to PK's Penguins. I saw my first penguin (Galapagos) in the wild in the early 1990s. We only saw about 3 or 4, other than swimming and walking they did little else. I was not particularly enamored by them and the banded penguins are really my least favorite penguins.
In 1996 we went with Abercrombie & Kent on the MV Explorer, "The Little Red Ship", the first expedition ship built, to the Antarctic Peninsula. This is when I first became enamored with penguins. We saw only the Brush Tailed Penguins; Adelies, Chinstraps, and Gentoos. We were amongst ~400,000 penguins and they did the usual penguins "things": swimming, porpoising, tobogganing, fighting and copulating. The snow in the penguin rookeries was pink from the krill which is the main stable in their diet. I naively was going to start a Save the Krill Foundation until I learned that most of the marine life depend on the krill for survival. A bad krill year means one sees fewer marine life. Unfortunately the MV Explorer, "The Little Red Ship"sank in November 2007 (click to see picture) after hitting an iceberg. It was following essentially the same route we took back in 1996, when my wife and I built a snowman on an ice float (click to see picture). Fortunately there were no fatalities. It seems that the obligatory boring lifeboat drills are essential, although most of us feel unnecessary as "our ship will never sink".
A few months later we saw the African Penguin on a beach on the Southeastern shores of South Africa. Here I discovered that these cute little birds are very territorial and really quite mean. I now made it my quest to see all 17 (now 19) species in the wild. In 2000 we went to Australia and saw the Little Blue or Fairy Penguins at Phillips Island. In the fall of 2001 I took a trip again on the Explorer with Zegrahm Expeditions circumnavigating the Falkland and South Georgia Islands. On the Falklands saw the Magellanic Penguin as well as the Rockhopper penguin, and on South Georgia we saw the Macaroni Penguin, and hundred of thousands of King Penguins. Chinstraps, and Gentoos were seen in small numbers.
South Georgia Scenes
Click on thumbnails for larger image
In the fall of 2002 we went to New Zealand traveling with Heritage Expeditions on their "Birding Down Under" trip. They made arrangements for me to see the White Flippered Penguin which many New Zealand marine biologists consider it a separate species from the Little Blue or Fairy penguin. We arrived at Christchurch at 9 AM and by 10 AM my wife and I were off to see the White Flippered Penguin at Banks Peninsula south of Christchurch guided by biologist Chris Challies. We drove across the South Island to a town on the west coast north of Jackson Bay called Haast, population 56. In the early evening we walked 45 minutes to a deserted beach to watch the Fiordland Crested penguin come ashore. We were lucky enough to see two. The Fiordland Crested Penguin is one of the most difficult to see because they are few in number and nest in hard to get places. We got back to our motel room at 10 PM. All the restaurants in the "metropolis" of Haast were closed, so we ate peanut butter crackers and washed them down with straight gin. Who says that flightless birders are not normal people? We then drove to Invercargill to board our ship, a 46 passenger converted Russian trawler. Traveling in the Southern Ocean in this ship was quite an experience. The ship had been upgraded but the Russian's idea of upgrading and mine is entirely different.
Our first visit to the subantarctic islands of New Zealand was at Snares Island to see the Snares Crested Penguin. As the island is a New Zealand National Refuge, we saw the penguins from zodiacs. There were huge colonies of Snares penguins. The next day we arrived at Enderby Island in the Auckland Island group to see the Yellow-eyed Penguin. As they are not social and few in number, seeing more than 5 or 6 in a group was unusual. After a day's sail we reached Macquarie Island, a subantarctic island of Australia. This is the only place to see the Royal Penguin. Like the Snares penguin there were huge colonies. We also saw large colonies of King Penguins as well as few Rockhoppers and Gentoos. It was on to the Antipodes and Bounty Islands to see the Erect Crested Penguin and the Eastern Rockhopper Penguin. Landings were not permitted on either island. Very few ships (only of New Zealand registry) are allowed near these islands which explains why probably fewer than 2500 people have ever seen the Erect Crested Penguin. In the Chatham Islands we saw the Chatham Little Blue penguin, a subspecies of the Little Blue Penguin
New Zealand Scenes
Click on thumbnails for larger image
New Zealand Photo Gallery
In the fall of 2004 we stayed in a small Chilean fishing village, Caleta Punta de Chores with only dirt roads to see the Humboldt Penguin on Isla de Damas. This island is part of the Humboldt Preserve and we saw the penguins from a small dingy. It was only fitting that the we saved the best for last, the Emperor Penguin. We went on a Russian icebreaker the Kaptain Khlebnikov with Quark Expeditions to the Weddell Sea We had very favorable ice and were able to see 4 Emperor Penguin rookeries. We went the farthest south the ship had ever traveled (76 degrees South), and also were the first "cruise" ship to ever visit Halley Station, the British presence on the Antarctic continent.
Antarctic Continent Scenes
Click on thumbnails for larger image
In the Fall of 2007 the Rockhopper penguin based on taxonomic considerations was divided into 3 species: the Western Rockhopper Penguin, Eastern Rockhopper Penguin and Northern Rockhopper Penguin. Some divide the Rockhopper Penguin into the Northern and Southern Rockhopper Penguins (with the Eastern and Western Rockhopper Penguins being subspecies). I will consider the the Western and Eastern Rockhopper Penguins as separate species. On our 2004 Weddell Sea trip, our marine biologist, Frank Todd trip said that less than 30 people have seen all 17 species. I believe that number is low, but I guess any number would be difficult to validate. With there now being 19 species of penguins the number of non-expedition staff travelers seeing all 19 species would certainly be less than 5. If one looks at Penguins books and I own about 8 or 9, what strikes me is that none of the books have pictures of all 17 let alone all 19 species. I have made a video DVD of all 17 species including the White Flippered penguin in their native habitat. I would suspect that few individuals if any can make that claim. My wife has seen 18 species. There are 382 photographs of penguins in their native habitat in this web site. All but about 50 of the photos in this web site are ones I have taken. Most of the Fiordland penguin and Humboldt penguins are courtesy of Peggy and John Wilcheck, the close up photos of the Fiordland penguin are from books, 6 of the Eastern and Northern Rockhoppers are courtesy of Peter Harrison. The Northern Rockhopper Photo Galleries are my photos from my recent trip to Nightingale Island. I have added 7 additional photo galleries (2010) from Google images of penguins that I will probably never see again in the wild.
In February and March 2009 I went with Lindblad Expeditions on the National Geographic Explorer from Cape Horn to the Cape of Good Hope. We stopped in the Tristan Da Cunha Archipelago at 3 of the larger islands; Tristan Da Cunha (the most remote inhabited island on the planet), Nightingale and Inaccessible. We were able to land on all 3 islands which was a first for an expedition ship, as the weather dictates successful landings. On Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands I was able to see my 19th penguin, the Northern Rockhopper.
Tristan Da Cunha Scenes