Watch Penguin Chicks Jump off 50-Foot Ice Cliff To Go for Their First Swim in Unprecedented Footage

Penguin Chicks Jumping Off Ice Shelf Edge for First Swim

Emperor penguin chicks jumping off the ice shelf edge for their first swim at Atka Bay on the Ekström Ice Shelf in Antarctica. (Photo: National Geographic/Bertie Gregory)

Baby penguins are born into the hostile conditions of Antarctica. The survival of a penguin chick requires attentive care from both of its parents, taking turns to keep the fledgling warm and fed. By the time they are 6 months old, penguin chicks go out on a daring adventure of their own—their first swim. A team of National Geographic videographers led by Bertie Gregory captured a thrilling video of baby penguins taking a leap of faith into the gelid waters.

“Since 2009, satellites have recorded evidence that some head towards sheer ice cliffs. What happens next has remained a mystery,” states the clip. While penguin chicks usually jump about 2 feet to take their first swim, this particular group of penguins spotted in January 2024 had to leap off of a 50-foot ice cliff.

The footage shows hundreds of penguins marching to the edge of the ice—they approximate that there were 700 hundred of them. Looking out into the sea, they can be seen surveying the landscape and hesitating about their next move. Suddenly, a brave penguin leaps into the water like an olympic diver. There is a moment of suspense, but then the daring chick is seen happily wading in the frigid waters. A few others follow its example, and that's when the commotion starts. As the curious penguins try to peek over the edge, they can't help but comically fall and plop into the water. Some mindlessly slip from the edge, while others willingly take the leap. On the way down, they bat their arms in panic, delivering an adorable belly flop.

This footage of the never-before-seen penguin dive is part of an upcoming television program titled Secrets of the Penguins, which will premiere on Earth Day 2025. To stay up to date with National Geographic, visit their website.

A team of National Geographic videographers led by Bertie Gregory visited Antarctica to track Emperor penguin chicks on a thrilling expedition.

The huddle of penguin chicks gathered at the edge of Atka Bay on the Ekström Ice Shelf, where they finally took the leap.

One after the other, the chicks started jumping, diving, and even comically falling into the frigid waters 50 feet below.

This remarkable footage is now the first of its kind to capture this behavior.

Watch the video of baby penguins taking a leap of faith into the gelid waters of Antarctica:

Bertie Gregory: Website | Instagram | Facebook
h/t: [Kottke]

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Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Staff Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
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