Ross Sea Iceberg and Penguins

January 08, 2008


Provided by: Mila Zinkova, Fogshadow
Summary authors & editors: Mila Zinkova, Stu Witmer

The photo above showing a handful of penguins resting on a rapidly melting iceberg was taken in the Ross Sea in early January, several years ago. The sun is always up during January in Antarctica since it's mid-summer in the Southern Hemisphere. This picture was actually shot well before 5:00 a.m. (local time). I went up to the Captain's Bridge, which is always open on expedition ships, and was chatting with the first mate when we both noticed these blue iceberg remnants with a small gathering of penguins. Penguins often use icebergs to rest or for protection from predators such as killer whales. The blue coloration of the "bergs" is attributable to ice particles more effectively absorbing the longer wavelengths (reds and yellows) of light than the shorter wavelengths (blues and greens). If the light travels a longer path, as in the compact ice of a glacier, then the ice appears bluer. The blueness of ice can be an indicator of its age and strength.