Monday, March 3, 2008
Thousands of penguins form striking pattern
Yet this scene shows an extraordinary community at work - thousands of king penguins instinctively herding their recently born young into giant huddles to stop them freezing to death.
Parental instinct takes over in the inhospitable climate of the South Atlantic and the furry brown chicks are made to crowd together to retain their body warmth in the equivalent of bird creches - visible as brown swathes on our photo.
The picture was taken 2,000ft above the shoreline of South Georgia, a British territory close to the Falklands, by a helicopter crew from the Royal Navy's ice patrol ship HMS Endurance.
Authorities impose the minimum flying height restrictions to protect more than 25,000 birds living in the colony.
Taking into account wind chill, the temperature was -15C on the island when the shot was taken in December.