Snap of widowed penguins hugging wins best photo award!3 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Against the backdrop of city lights, two little fairy penguins huddle together while looking onto the ocean. This heartwarming picture, taken in Melbourne, Australia, is shot by photographer Tobias Baumgaertner.
The viral picture that was shared on Instagram features two widowed penguins, and won the Community Choice Award at Oceanographic magazine’s Ocean Photograph Awards 2020. Tobias had originally taken the snap in 2019, but released it in March this year with a touching note on pandemic-induced isolation.
He wrote, “During times like this, the truly lucky ones are those that can be with the person/people they love most. I captured this moment about a year ago.
“These two fairy penguins poised upon a rock overlooking the Melbourne skyline were standing there for hours, flipper in flipper, watching the sparkling lights of the skyline and ocean.
“A volunteer approached me and told me that the white one was an elderly lady who had lost her partner and apparently so did the younger male to the left. Since then, they meet regularly comforting each other and standing together for hours watching the dancing lights of the nearby city.”
He continued, “I spent three full nights with this penguin colony until I was able to get this picture. Between not being able or allowed to use any lights and the tiny penguins continuously moving, rubbing their flippers on each other’s backs and cleaning one another, it was really hard to get a shot but I got lucky during one beautiful moment.”
You can see the original picture on Tobias’ Instagram page, and also other stunning wildlife and nature shots.
Owliver’s Obscure Facts
Here are some interesting facts about fairy penguins
- Did you know that fairy penguins are known as ‘little penguins’ outside of Australia? They are the smallest penguin species around, growing to an average height of just 33 centimetres!
- Their poop sparkles – Due to the amount of fish they eat, fairy penguin scat looks like it has pixie dust on it.
- They are monogamists – This means that they have just one partner. After an elaborate mating ritual, the birds pick a partner for life.
- They are blue in colour – The neck and belly are a greyish colour, but their back and top of the head have blue feathers. This helps them camouflage in the ocean.
- They spend most of their day in the water – Fairy penguins spend up to 18 hours in the water, and only come to shore at night to sleep and during mating and breeding seasons.
Sources: Ladbible, BBC