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In photos: Dressed to impress - Happy Penguin Awareness Day!

18 Jan 2019


  • antarctica
  • penguins
  • whales

Sub-zero temperatures, snow blizzards and a land of seemingly endless ice. It takes a lot to be able to survive on the Antarctic continent, but penguins know how and they sure do it in style. So today, we celebrate these super cool animals with some super cool snaps. 

Recently, WWF’s Antarctic Program Lead, Chris Johnson, went on an expedition down south, braving all of the above, to take these amazing photos that show the importance of protecting this beautiful and natural landscape.

Come behind-the-scenes with him as we explore the frosty homes of Antarctic penguins.



Portrait of a Gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua), Antarctic Peninsula  © Chris Johnson / WWF-Aus

Gentoo penguins are one of the few Antarctic species thriving under the rapid warming conditions in the region. Climate change means sea ice is decreasing rapidly. As a result, populations of the ice-adapted Adélie are generally declining, whereas populations of the ice-averse gentoo penguin are increasing.

 Fly in - fly out - A SKUA AND A GENTOO PENGUIN

A skua (Stercorarius) surprises a Gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua), Antarctic Peninsula © Chris Johnson / WWF-Aus

A skua surprises a gentoo penguin on the ice. The penguin is right to be wary as skuas feed on gentoo penguin eggs.


A gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua) among a colony of southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina), Antarctic Peninsula (1000px) © Chris Johnson / WWF-Aus

A gentoo penguin waddles (cautiously) amongst a colony of southern elephant seals.  

 Nearly camouflaged - CHINSTRAP PENGUIN

Chinstrap penguin (Pygoscelis antarcticus) braves high winds and a snowstorm, Antarctic Peninsula © Chris Johnson / WWF-Aus

Antarctic marine life live in one of the most extreme environments on the planet.

To make matters worse, increasing pressure to grow commercial krill fishing along the Antarctic Peninsula would continue to upset the delicate natural balance.

Go with the flow - SOUTHERN GIANT PETREL

Southern giant petrel (Macronectes giganteus) flies in the sky, Antarctic Peninsula © Chris Johnson / WWF-Aus

A southern giant petrel soars high in the sky. Big wingspan and a huge bill, they remind me of albatross or mollyhawks. 

 Hangers on - HUMPBACK WHALE

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaengliae) feeds on Antarctic krill in Fournier Bay, Antarctic Peninsula © Chris Johnson / WWF-Aus

Feeding humpback whales filled Fournier Bay, Antarctica Peninsula.

 Cool nap - WEDDELL SEAL

Portrait of a sleeping Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddllii), Antarctic Peninsula © Chris Johnson / WWF-Aus

Weddell seals are incredibly placid, sedentary animals. I was able to approach this individual to take this photo without any apparent stress at all.


Dermot O\

Me with WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman high above the glacier in Neko Harbour, Antarctica Peninsula. For me, there is no place like it on Earth.

WWF is calling for 30% of the seas surrounding Antarctica to be protected by 2030. The Antarctic Peninsula and its amazing wildlife is under increasing pressure from climate change, krill fishing and a growing tourism industry.


Ice take many forms in the Antarctic © Chris Johnson /  WWF-Aus

Antarctic icebergs come in different colours - blue, jade green, white, yellow, even striped with multicolour. Blue bergs are frozen fresh water. Made from thousands of years of snow falling on the plateau.

Recommended reading

Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Wilhelmina Bay, Antarctica © Michael Harte


Protecting the Southern Ocean

WWF is championing the expansion of marine protected areas in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

Read more