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Hundreds Of Emperor Penguin Chicks Leap From Massive Antarctic Iceberg, Watch Stunning Footage

emperor penguin chicks

National Geographic recently caught first-of-its-kind footage that shows the awe-sticking way 700 emperor penguin chicks learned to swim.

According to a video the publication posted on YouTube, emperor penguin chicks take their first swim at six months old. They typically do so by jumping two feet from ice cliffs. However, the only evidence scientists have had of this phenomenon has been captured from satellites, and what happens once the chicks hit the water “has remained a mystery.”

But in January of this year, a National Geographic team spent two months camping alongside a colony of about 10,000 emperor penguins who lived in Atka Bay on the Ekström Ice Shelf in Antarctica. And they were lucky enough to witness the event for themselves, but in this case, the chicks lept from a 50-foot cliff.

Cinematographer Bertie Gregory told Good Morning America that the jumps unfolded in a majestic way. He was studying the colony one day, and, all of a sudden, “trains of chicks” started heading towards a massive ice shelf, so he launched a drone to follow.

“[I] flew it over there to see what was going on, and realized they were stacking up on the edge of a huge 50-foot ice cliff,” he said.

Emperor Penguin Chicks Say “I Can Swim!”

The team had been hoping to capture the emperor penguin chicks’ first swims, which always happens in January. But they never expected to see them fall from such great heights.

“One by one they started to jump off this 50-foot ice cliff to take their first swim in the Southern Ocean,” Bertie continued

In the footage, as soon as one chick is brave enough to take the first jump, the others feel confident to follow. Bertie worried that their descent was dangerous, but the chicks instinctively knew what to do.

“They were falling and there were big chunks of ice floating in the water beneath them,” he recalled. “So it’s like falling onto a chunk of concrete.”

“But, to my amazement, they were not just surviving, but popping up and going, ‘I can swim!’ This is their first swim ever, the first swim of their lives,” he added.

The footage will be part of a Disney+ original called Secrets of the Penguins, which debuts on April 22, 2025.

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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