We’re thrilled to report we made our fourth consecutive landing at the emperor penguin colony on Snow Hill Island last Friday, the first attempt we’ve been able to make in three years.
Each passenger on Ortelius was able to spend about an hour and a half near the rookery, situated in a cluster of other Weddell Sea islands east of the Antarctic Peninsula.
Since Snow Hill Island is located in an especially cold area, it is almost always ice-locked and therefore inaccessible even by ice-strengthened vessels. For this reason, we use helicopters stationed on board Ortelius to reach it.
Our last successful landing was in 2019, before which we made landings in 2018 and 2017. In the preceding years, however, inclement weather prevented us from flying.
The Snow Hill emperor colony is home to about 2,000 penguins. Many of these are curious enough to approach our hiking groups, which we keep at a respectful distance from the seabirds. We also land our helicopters far enough away so as to not disturb them.
Emperors are the only penguin species that breeds during the Antarctic winter. As that has drawn to a close, we can also see their chicks – a delightful bonus for both our guides and guests.
Main image by Sara Jenner