In a place called Danko Island on the Antarctic Peninsula, we found this perfect iceberg. Actually, it wasn’t an iceberg; it was something called a “bergy bit,” a mini-iceberg. And on top of it was a group of gentoo and chinstrap penguins. Jennifer and I swam around it and swam around it. The penguins were playing this game, and the game was called “King of the Iceberg.” They’re flapping their flippers at each other as penguins do. The gentoos are pushing the chinstraps, and the chinstraps are pushing the gentoos in. And they would push each other over the side of the iceberg. The penguins would dive down and they’d fly underwater.
That’s what they do — penguins fly underwater. They move really fast. How fast? Well, it’s like — if you’re at a party, and you blow up a balloon, and you release it, and it whips around the room, that is what a penguin is like underwater, leaving a stream of bubbles. Then they would pop up on the other side and the games begin again.
We were in the water for about an hour-and-a-half, getting colder and colder. And remember, the water in Antarctica is minus two degrees Celsius, or just about 29 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s really cold. And scuba diving — we’d dive for about an hour. When we were snorkeling, because we’re moving around a little bit more, we can last a little bit longer. But your ideas and images last a lot longer than your body does. And when your fingers begin to be completely numb, that’s when you really have to get out. Core temperature begins to drop. We just didn’t want to get out. Gray skies, white, white, white icebergs. Flash would go off, illuminating the bottom part of the iceberg, and the penguins were flying and eating little bits of krill underwater and popping up. I can’t wait to — you know, it’s one of those magic moments.