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A lot of penguins and a massive leopard seal

For the third year in a row, Alain Hubert visited the emperor penguin colony he confirmed the existence of two years ago. While counting the adult penguins and chicks in order to estimate  the size and health of the colony, we had a startling encounter.

Monitoring the penguin colony

Antarctica is a protected area and wildlife should not be disturbed. Only three people approach the animals to count the chicks and adults in order to evaluate the size and health of the colony, while keeping a safe enough distance so as not to disturb the colony.

Information on the estimated population of the penguins is then relayed to scientists studying emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica.

Startled by a leopard seal

When we moved towards the edge of the ice shelf, our cameraman Jos Van Hemelrijck spotted a leopard seal swimming nearby. As a natural predator of emperor penguins, it was likely hunting for penguins in the area.

Having probably never seen any humans in its life, the seal wasn't scared. When it spotted us, it jumped up on the ice to take a closer look. Even though we were very careful to keep our distance, the speed of the animal startled us all.

Video: © Jos van Hemelrijck / International Polar Foundation

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