National Geographic Magazine

As ice melts, emperor penguins march toward extinction

In June 2020, my first article was published in National Geographic Magazine featuring the beautiful emperor penguins of Antarctica.

Until recently, the climate crisis seems to have had a mixed impact on the southern, frozen parts of the planet and grave concerns for the planet’s threatened polar ecosystems have largely focused on arctic wildlife, like polar bears. But emperor penguins are now facing a similar uncertain future. The last few years have seen the collapse of the swathes of the seasonal sea ice on which the emperor penguins depend to raise their chicks.

The piece is based around the stunning images taken by photographer Stefan Christmann who spent two years in total living on the ice shelf of Atka Bay, capturing every stage of the penguins’ extraordinary lives. It was a great pleasure to work with Stefan and to tell his stories of life on the ice, which will hopefully raise awareness of how emperor penguins could soon be hit hard by the climate crisis.

Stefan’s images even took pride of place on the front cover of several editions of the magazine, including the China, Japan and the Netherlands.