This is a picture of penguins—a huge colony of king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) on South Georgia Island. It’s one of eight wonderful photographs of the species taken by Andy Rouse that appeared in yesterday’s Guardian.
The brown parts of the colony are crèches: groups of young unmolted birds that gather together and are tended by a few adults while the parents go fishing. It always amazes me that every penguin can distinguish not only its own mate, but its own chick among the huddled masses. Of course, evolution would, though kin selection, foster that ability: you don’t want to promulgate somebody else’s genes.
This could easily be captioned as a LOLpenguin:
King penguins are the world’s second largest penguin (after the emperor), weighing in at a hefty 20-30 pounds. They also have an unusually long breeding season: between 14 and 16 months from egg to fledging, so they cannot breed annually.
There are two subspecies: A. patagonicus patagonicus, whose distribution is shown in pink on the map below, and A. patagonicus halli, whose distribution is in yellow. Green areas are the breeding grounds: they don’t breed on the Antarctic mainland.