Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Penguin power

I haven't seen this particular product (which hasn't been released yet), but I've seen BBC's three-part documentary about the lives, times and contretemps of penguins. I must say that these flightless birds are both interesting and fascinating!

We get to follow the entire life cycle of three penguin species: the Emperor Penguin of Antarctica, the Humboldt Penguin of Peru and the Rockhopper of the Falkland Islands. The two latter live really rough lives, attacked by an assortment of vicious predators and competing sea birds, the Humboldt Penguins even being forced to cope with vampire bats. Another classic is a battle between over-sized ducks and five eagles, with a poor Rockhopper stuck in between! It seems juvenile albatrosses don't say no to catching some penguin meat, either. (Always wondered what albatrosses were eating out there?)

As for the Emperor Penguins, they really do look like strange humans in tuxedo, while their chicks look like badly made toys... Sorry, can't help anthropomorphizing. The documentary shows how the adults deliberately abandon the chicks, in order to trigger the latter's survival instincts. On their difficult journey to the sea, the Emperor chicks are escorted by Adélie Penguins, a different species. Why would one species want to help the chicks of another one? Pardon my cynicism, but I think the helpful Adélies simply want to get rid of the Emperor Penguins from what they consider Adélie territory.

The documentary was taped with the help of spy cams disguised as (you've guessed it) penguins or penguin eggs, creating all kinds of humorous situations. One penguin attacks a spy cam which spurned his amorous advances, while one of the egg-cameras is taken by a flying seabird, giving us an excellent panoramic view of the penguin colony from above!

Probably this year's best nature documentary. This is Penguin Power and definitely worth five stars. Let's hope the DVD is as good as the televised version...

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