28 October 2022

#AntarcticLog: Penguins!

Posted by Shane Hanlon

#AntarcticLog is a series of comics by Karen Romano Young. You can find the originals here.

Once upon a time, I had a penguin costume. I’ve learned that, when I go into the field with scientists, it’s never a bad idea to pack a costume. And that one has definitely had legs — short legs, for sure, but I’ve seen it in a number of videos, from penguin dances for International Penguin Day to open mic nights — penguin on saxophone, anyone? Now I presume it rests on one of the skua shelves (stuff left behind that’s up for grabs) on station, and it likely to make an appearance this coming Monday.

It’s not just that penguins are big favorites at Antarctic research stations — it’s that they’re a big topic. In my recent book, ANTARCTICA: THE MELTING CONTINENT, I reported on the work of WHOI’s Stéphanie Jenouvrier. She created scenarios for emperor penguins based on projected global warming trends, concluding that, in the worst-case scenario, a 3-5º C temperature rise by 2100, 98% of emperor penguins could perish.  Now, this research (which she shares with an international group of scientists) has led to protections. 

In the spirit of Halloween, I’ll repost a few other penguin #AntarcticLogs, including one of my favorites, put together with the help of biologist Sarah Kienle, and inspired by the curiosity of Isabella Bigda, then 11. 

And here’s a bit more penguin physiology, concerning some of the tricks penguin’s bodies use to stay warm. Here’s hoping your Halloween is full of treats — and good costumes wherever you find them. 

Karen Romano Young is a writer, artist, deep-sea diver, and polar explorer. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram.