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Meeting the 'Emperor' in Antarctica

Bob Champoux, an instructor with the Thompson School's Civil Technology program, is in Antarctica for a year-long professional development program. Recently Champoux sent photos of an Emperor penguin that he met recently while doing research.

Champoux and the Emperor penguin.
According to Champoux, he and a colleague were surveying on the ice shelf when they heard the unmistakable squawk of an Emperor penguin.

"Having no predators on land, being incredibly inquisitive and of poor eyesight, they will come right up to check you out. So, from away, one flops on their belly and ski-daddles right up to us to check on what we were doing. They will easily come within 5 feet of you if you are laying down or on your knees. After about 20 minutes, he was off," he said.

"It's the time of year when they come up on land and molt. Unlike other birds who lose and replace feathers a few at a time, penguins come out of the water and lose all of their feathers in two week's time. This guy had probably walked 50 miles from open water, on his 3-inch long legs, to get this far. They just pick a spot and hang out. There's nothing as frumpy-looking as a penguin standing still for two weeks while the old feathers blow away and new ones come in," Champoux said.

While in Antarctica, Champoux is enjoying high temperatures in the mid-teens and bright sun for most of the day. "Sunrise is at 2:20 a.m. Sunset is 12:54 a.m. That's 1:26 minutes of 'night time.' "


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