South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands: The First Penguin

May 15, 2017

By Ciara Wing
Eighth-grade world explorer and competitive athlete who lives near Lake Tahoe

|  What’s life like aboard an Abercrombie & Kent cruise to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands? It’s an awesome experience that takes adventurous teens and tweens, and their families, to some of the most remote places in the world. Here is Ciara’s story.

|  As I stepped out of the zodiac, I was startled by a knee-high penguin gazing up at me. I squatted down and we looked at each other eye to eye. I just could not get over how it was a real, wild penguin standing not more than a few inches away from my snow-booted toes! After turning his head from side to side to get a good look at me–penguins’ eyes are made for seeing under water, not as well above–he slowly lowered his sleek torpedo body face-plant style into the oncoming surf. A small wave washed over my boots and carried away my very first penguin!

As the white foam disappeared, I stood up and spotted him through the clear-as-glass water, shooting off in the direction of a bunch of icebergs. His sleek body zoomed and swerved. Penguin wings did not allow him to fly through the air, but he seemed to fly in the water as he swam at lightning speed. Suddenly he changed direction and was joined by a swarm of other penguins. “Do penguins have friends?” I wondered. I lost track of him as they all began porpoising, popping up out of the water, flying for short distances over the water’s surface, and then diving, over and over. They reminded me of dolphins, and seemed to be having tons of fun!

As they neared an iceberg, one penguin launched out of the water and landed on his feet like he had been standing there forever. Another penguin jumped out, narrowly avoiding the bird who had landed just ahead of him. As they started waddling away with their bodies and heads swinging from side to side and their flippers out and behind them for balance, the rest of the penguins followed them out of the water. One guy lost his footing and slid backward into the water. None of the penguins were very graceful as they walked around. The penguins all waddled across the iceberg with a few flipper fights along the way. When they got to the edge of the ice, each of the penguins poked and prodded one another until one fell in. The other penguins followed with a little more grace, diving into the water headfirst and zooming on their way.

As my parents and I continued on our way across the sand and over the snow toward the cacophony of the nearby penguin colony, I kept thinking about my first real, wild penguin and wondering what he was doing.

For more information, stories, and pictures from our Antarctic cruise aboard Le Boréal, visit Antarctica: From a Kid’s Perspective.

About the Author

Ciara Wing lives near Lake Tahoe, California and competitively races in four sports: mountain biking, downhill skiing, triathlons, and adventure racing.  She loves school, Dr. Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and reading.  She has explored more than 50 countries.  She starts high school this fall. 

By Kids Do the City--A Teen Travel Blog

Kids Do the City is a teen and tween travel blog. Teens and tweens who like to travel share their tips and adventures with other teens and tweens who travel.