Did someone say they'd lost a penguin? 200,000 young birds search for their hungry chicks
Most parents will know the problem. Your back is turned for two seconds and your little one has disappeared into the crowd.Well just be thankful it’s not a crowd like this.This sea of black, white and brown is created by 200,000 king penguins searching for their hungry chicks on the South Atlantic island of South Georgia.
And, incredibly given the apparent chaos, the young birds hardly ever get lost – thanks to each having a unique begging call.The scene was captured by German photographer Michael Poliza after the penguins had returned en masse to their home colony for a new breeding season.
King penguins are 3ft tall and weigh up to 33lbs. They lay just one egg each year and the fluffy brown chicks take 11 months to become self-sufficient, so it’s fortunate for them that their parents can p-p-p-pick them out.Each year, the king penguin colony at Salisbury Plains, South Georgia, produces an astonishing 50,000 chicks - a number which is on the rise.And Mr Poliza, from Hamburg, Germany, was left speechless when he was met by the noise, smell and breathtaking sight of the enormous colony.
He said: "Nothing can prepare you for opening your eyes and seeing hundreds of thousands of penguins right in front of you for as far as you can see."It was beautiful looking out across a sea of such vibrant colour - I felt a bit like an opera conductor amidst a one-of-a-kind concert of cries from thousands of hungry chicks."The view was even more stunning as it was framed by a truly breathtaking backdrop of mountains and glaciers."The chick is a true 'homebody' in every sense of the word. They need about eleven months to become self-sufficient so it's a good job they have such a unique cry."King penguins can recognise each other's call and can find their mate and their chick among the 200,000 birds in the colony."Each October king penguins across the sub polar Antarctic regions return to their home colonies to breed and lay just one precious egg.Dedicated Michael, who has a new exhibition opening in Germany at the end of October, had to travel to the Antarctic Peninsula on a cruise ship to capture the striking shots.
It looks like they're playing Wheres Wally: The chaotic scenes make it look impossible for the adult penguins to find their young, but because of their unique begging call amazingly they never get lost
He would wake up at 4am and go straight from his cabin to the upper deck, where a crane lifted him and a rubber dinghy overboard and lowered them into the icy water.He added: "Part of the courtship ritual of king penguins is an erect posture where both sexes make themselves as tall as possible to impress their potential mate.
"During the October courtship period, males parade the females with loud calls, an erect posture and a courtship walk - being the tallest certainly impresses the females."It seems like a chaotic mixture of adults and their chicks, and king penguins look quite comical, but they know exactly what they are doing."On land, penguins are very curious as there have been no land predators in Antarctica so I was able to get up close to them."I would love to go back again as it was a truly fantastic experience."