Breeding Grounds (04:18)
Thousands of Emperor penguins make their way to Atka Bay; new ice provides the safest place for them to breed. The ice will remain for nine months before melting.
Emperor penguins pair up anew each winter. The couples perform a ritual where they synchronize movements, cementing their bond. With time running out, some penguins forego the formalities.
Twilight World (03:42)
Emperors without mates go back out to sea to feed. Penguins use their feet to help keep eggs warm during gestation. The sun sets one last time before two months of darkness.
Egg Duty (02:53)
Females lose 25% of their body weight when producing an egg. Mothers return to the sea after weeks without eating. They pass their eggs to their partners who keep them warm throughout the harsh winter.
Penguin Cooperation (05:18)
Freezing winds drive temperatures down. Male emperors merge into a massive huddle to keep themselves and their eggs warm. The huddle moves constantly as males on the periphery jockey for warmer positions.
Ice March (02:21)
The winter storm breaks, revealing casualties. Conditions drive the males from the safest part of the ice. They reform the huddle in preparation of another storm.
End of the Polar Night (03:18)
The return of the sun coincides with the arrival of the next generation of penguins. The fathers have not eaten for months, yet they have a vital reserve of “milk” for their offspring.
Return to the Colony (04:05)
The females are fat and well-fed, allowing them to provide sustenance for the chicks. The males pass their offspring to their mates. Some females that have lost their chicks steal others during this exchange.
Storm Dangers (06:37)
Males head out to sea for food. Mothers bond with their chicks. A storm hits, pushing several penguins into a steep, icy ravine. One mother abandons her chick to save herself, while another fights her way out.
Aurora Australis (04:48)
The southern lights brighten the skies. Penguin parents take turns feeding their offspring and encourage them to stand. Chicks huddle together while their parents fish.
Lone Chicks (05:06)
The huddle is the only shelter for many chicks. The instinct to follow adults as they head out to sea is strong. One chick becomes lost but follows an adult back to safety.
Penguin Survival (02:48)
Summer arrives and the ice melts. The chicks are nearly grown and approaching independence; they shed their downy feathers. Two thirds of the chicks have survived, but the emperors face an uncertain future.
Credits: Dynasties: Emperor (00:37)
Credits: Dynasties: Emperor
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