Thursday, March 10, 2016

Perth pet photographer Alex Cearns captures penguins in Antarctica

A Gentoo penguin chick waves from beneath the safety and warmth of its parent, at Fort Lockroy, Antarctica. Picture: Alex Cearns/Houndstooth Studio
PHOTOGRAPHER Alex Cearns didn’t know where to look first when she finally stepped foot on “the bottom of the world”.
This was partly because her first view was of 5000 mating penguins, but mainly because there was just so much she wanted to capture.
So it was no surprise that she shot about 18,000 images in the six days she explored the world’s coldest continent.
A curious and playful Chinstrap penguin looks around quizzically in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. Picture: Alex Cearns/Houndstooth Studio
“I was so overwhelmed by all the seals, the birds, the penguins,” she said.
“Then I thought, ‘this is crazy, we’re at the bottom of the world’. ”
It was a spectacular start to what she described as the greatest experience of her career – leading a 20-person wildlife photography tour through Antarctica.
The strong, touch feet of a Gentoo penguin chick rest on the cold ground of Cuverville Island, Antarctica. Picture: Alex Cearns/Houndstooth Studio
The tour left from Ushuaia, on the southernmost tip of Argentina, and sailed down the Beagle Channel and Drake Passage before landing at the South Shetland Islands.
“When we first stepped out onto the Antarctic continent, there were about 5000 mating gentoo penguins and it was just amazing watching all their different behaviours,” Cearns said.
A crab eater seal lying on an iceberg in Neko Harbour, Antarctic, has a zen moment. Picture: Alex Cearns/Houndstooth Studio
Even though it was the southern hemisphere’s summer, the mercury reached a high of only about 5C during last month’s tour.
Strict rules meant the photographers had to be at least 5m from penguins and 30m from seals.
A Gentoo penguin rides on an iceberg of brilliant blue in Flanders Bay, Antarctic. Picture: Alex Cearns/Houndstooth Studio
Cearns’ next tour, in June, will be something very different – Cambodian bear sanctuaries.
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