A curious penguin has been caught on camera throwing itself at a team of researchers working on a University of Wollongong-led project in the Antarctic.
Members of the project team, which includes two UOW research students, a CSIRO scientist and staff from the Australian Antarctic Division, were collecting water samples in Newcomb Bay when the encounter took place last week.
It was just one of eight penguins to drop in and check out the work of researchers, who are exploring the impact of metal contaminants in the environment, on January 16.
“It’s a pretty exciting research program, so several penguins have been throwing themselves at the team over the last few months,” the chief investigator, UOW Professor Dianne Jolley, said.
“We believe it’s their mechanism to be nominated for a research program on the team, because the work we’re doing is going to protect the Antarctic food webs, so the things that they eat such as the algae and the krill.”
The footage – captured by Matt McKay, a communications operator for the Australian Antarctic Division – first shows the Adélie penguin swimming in the water near the group’s small boat.
The penguin then launches itself out of the water and onto the boat, before it has a good look around and jumps back in the icy ocean.
It’s a pretty exciting research program, so several penguins have been throwing themselves at the team.Professor Dianne Jolley
The vision was posted to the CSIRO’s Facebook page on January 18 and has since been viewed more than 1.4 million times.
The research team arrived at Casey Station in early December for three months of field work.
Ms Jolley said the crew was exploring the ability of a device to measure metals in sediments and waters.
The measurements will then be used to determine concentrations that enable fragile Antarctic organisms to survive and reproduce.
“We are investigating the thresholds that will allow harmony, I suppose, between human activities and aquatic life in the Antarctic,” she said.
The outcomes of the research will help develop water and sediment quality guidelines for Antarctic regions, which don’t exist at present.
The research, funded by UOW and the Australian Antarctic Science Program, has run for two years and will continue for another two.
Read more: Snake hitches ride from Eden to Pambula