NSFW: penguin behaviour

By: Arjen Drost

Feb 12 2016

Tags: , , ,

Category: Birds, nature, Photography, Polar

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Aperture:f/7.1
Focal Length:300mm
ISO:400
Shutter:1/1000 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Copulating Chinstrap Penguins

I can sit ages next to a penguin colony and watch their behaviour. It is really nice to see how they behave. However, in earlier years some people thought differently… George Murray Levick, a surgeon and officer on the British 1910 Terra Nova-expedition had the opportunity to observe, as one of the first, the full breeding cycle of Adelie Penguins (yes, I know, the penguins in the picture are Chinstraps, but I guess their behaviour isn’t that different). And he was so shocked by what he saw, that he only dared to publish his observations in Greek, a language only read by a few high educated people as it was clearly unfit for common people to read. Recently these pamphlets were found and published, apparently we’re more used to strange behaviour nowadays as we were a century ago.

His observations included necrophilia, rape of females and chicks and homosexual behaviour (much more frowned upon as it is now). For that matter, these two penguins were behaving normally, except they were copulating a bit late in the season (the first chicks were already born). While I was taking this picture however, on the other side of the colony the lone Macaroni Penguin tried to rape one of the Chinstraps who didn’t really seem to enjoy it. This might also be caused by the fact that the Macaroni was sitting on her face…

They often say that we like penguins so much as they look and behave like us. I’m not sure that’s a good thing in this case.

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