By Alyce Collins
THOUSANDS of King penguins have been captured dominating one of Britain’s most far-flung and isolated territories of special scientific interest.
The amazing shots capture the lovable King penguin colonies in South Georgia, up close as though we’re part of the colony.
Other incredible shots show the adorable penguin chicks, notable for their completely brown, fluffier looking feathers, as they follow the adult members of the colony, remaining close together all the while.
Fascinating aerial shots present the glorious colours of the black and white feathers with their distinctive yellow patches, against a breath-taking backdrop of mountains.
The unique aerial shots capture the enormous size of the colony from above, as the scattering of penguins reaches far into the distance of the shot.
These remarkable photographs were caught on camera by photographer, David Merron (41) in St. Andrews Bay, South Georgia, earlier this year. David shot the images on a Canon 5d Mark IV camera with varying lenses, whereas the aerial shots were captured by elevating the camera on top of a pole to look over the colony.
“Wildlife photography is my passion and having the opportunity to visit unreal wildlife spectacles such as South Georgia keeps me coming back again” David said.
“A photograph helps take the viewer part of the way there.
“In my images I try to make that wow feeling come across.”
King penguins are the world’s second largest penguin, typically weighing between twenty-six and thirty pounds. On average, most adult King penguins reach a height of approximately thirty-five inches, with others reaching forty inches.
South Georgia boasts four species of penguin, including King, Gentoo, Chinstrap and Macaroni, homing a sizeable seven million penguins in South Georgia alone, and 150,000 pairs of King penguins in St. Andrews Bay specifically.
The estimated breeding population of King penguins is thought to be around two million breeding pairs, creating no risk of king penguins becoming endangered any time soon.
Penguin pairs breed in general two times every three years, however as they don’t make nests, the chicks are held in the feet of the mother and father in turns for over fifty days to keep it warm during the incubation phase.
Once hatched, the chicks cling onto one of the parent’s feet for the first month, meanwhile the non-breeding parent is able to go out and forage for food at sea. For each breeding pair, it can take up to sixteen months to fledge a chick, meaning they can only rear up to two chicks at a time as they require so much attention.
South Georgia is one of the largest breeding areas for King penguins and the colonies huddle close together to protect their younglings from the freezing temperatures, as chicks cannot regulate their body temperature at an early age. Once the chicks have grown bigger, select adult penguins rotate in looking after the young ones with the use of a creche – so the adults may forage for food out in the water.
The lengthy duration of the breeding phase means that colonies are rather stable and there is little chance for movement.
You can check out more of David Merron’s photography by visiting his blog: http://www.davidmerronphotography.com/2017/12/30/ylokuxt1r8r6pyogvju5c7raf5id8i