Stunning Photos of Penguins in Antarctica Show Harsh Realities of Life in the Wild

Gentoo Penguin Picture

Of the 17 known species of penguins, 7 live and nest either in Antarctica or on sub-Antarctic Islands. ATOM, a professional photographer from Japan who has traveled to 63 countries in two years, recently spent 10 days traveling around Antarctica, coming away with an incredible reportage documenting the behavior of these Antarctic penguins.

Interestingly, ATOM didn't travel to the icy continent intending to photograph penguins; the initial mission of his trip was to document the landscape. All that changed while spending time on the ship from Ushuaia, Argentina to Antarctica. “I was interested in the habits and cuteness of penguins in books I read on the ship,” the photographer tells My Modern Met. “I wanted to convey the behavior of penguins and the severity of wild animals.”

With a new goal in mind, he set out each afternoon to photograph the scenery and take pictures of penguins. Mainly photographing Gentoo penguins—which are characterized by their red-orange bill and white strap across the top of their heads—and the occasional Chinstrap penguin, ATOM photographed all aspects of the behaviors he observed. “Unlike the penguins I've seen in the zoo, I was surprised by the strong and sturdy wild penguins.”

Penguins in Antarctica

This fortitude is necessary in an environment where predators await penguins on land and sea. Skuas, grey sub-Antarctic birds, swoop down and steal eggs and chicks, while leopard seals are predators at sea. One of ATOM's favorite penguin pictures shows the determination of these flightless birds.

“One of my favorite photographs shows the severity of the wild,” he shares. “A part of the sea was red when he [the penguin] landed—he had injured his body. It seemed that he'd managed to escape from the enemy. He walked slowly, found a piece of ice larger than himself, and stood still to hide there. He was trembling. It showed me the harsh life of wild animals.”

Another favorite moment speaks to the courage penguins have, and how they are ready to sacrifice themselves for the good of the flock. Lined up in single file, the first penguin makes a leap into the unknown. It take, as ATOM describes, “a courageous penguin to jump into the ocean where an enemy might exist.”  It's a truly selfless act that reminds us once again that penguins aren't only beautiful, but also brave.

Japanese photographer ATOM spent 10 days studying the behavior of penguins in Antarctica.

Gentoo Penguin Picture

Gentoo Penguin Picture

Chinstrap Penguin Picture

Gentoo Penguin Picture

Baby Penguin in Antarctica

His photographs show that beyond their beauty, penguins must fight for survival against predators in the wild.

Gentoo Penguin Swimming

Gentoo Penguin Picture

Gentoo Penguin in Antarctica by ATOM Photographer

Gentoo Penguin in Antarctica by ATOM Photographer

Gentoo Penguin Picture

Photographer ATOM: WebsiteInstagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Photographer ATOM.

Related Articles:

Rare Blonde Penguin Spotted Along the Shores of Antarctica

An Incredible Encounter with a Friendly Penguin in Antarctica

The Secret of How Emperor Penguins Launch Out of Water

Preserving a Penguin’s Life Through Photography

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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