Etymology: obsolete English penguin great auk, perhaps from Welsh pen gwyn white head (applied to the bird in winter plumage)
Date: 1588: any of various erect short-legged flightless aquatic birds (family Spheniscidae) of the southern hemisphere
Read on to see how to
traumatize a penguin - after the picture.
We were told there were 180,000 penguins on the island and of course we had visions of having our picture taken surrounded by thousands of them. As we got closer to the island our guide said that three weeks ago there were 80,000 as they had started to migrate toward Peru and warmer waters. Then they said one week ago there were 40,000, still a reasonable number to take pictures of. Then we heard that another captain of a ship had called our captain and indicated that the last of the penguins were poised on the rocky coast to swim away for the winter season and we had better hurry. Well we got to the island and there was over 180,000 holes in the ground where they nest and maybe 500 penguins over the entire island. So every 400th hole might have one peeping out of it! About fourteen of us were standing at the cliffs and one of the crew crossed into the field which is a no, no but we didn't say anything. He got a penguin, young but just about ready to migrate, out of the nest and started him toward us. He walked down the cliff to the water, hopped on a rock and didn't look happy. He jumped in and the cold water hit his feet and he hopped back on the rock and looked up at his nest. So up the cliff, he was very fat, and to his nest. All fourteen of us chased him with our cameras. As he ran by me I took this picture! I stood there and had to laugh as the rest of the group ran after him. He ran for over a quarter of a mile along the pathway with people in hot pursuit. Ian had his video camera and later I asked if he got good shots of the penguin and he had to laugh as he couldn't run and keep the penguin in the viewer! Finally the poor thing ran off into the middle of the island and into a hole. One woman laughed and said "That poor penguin is traumatized for life!" So much for having thousands of penguins in our pictures!
Back to the Chile Home Page