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Penguins of the Antarctic: A Photographic Expedition

Except for the sounds of the rookeries, the expansion and contraction of the ice, and the howl of the wind, Antarctica is very much like the soundless photographs presented in this exhibition.

Traveling along the ice shelves from Atka Bay to Halley Station, painter, naturalist and photographer J.J. L’Heureux turns her camera to the emperor penguins and their adaptations to the cold and wind of the continent.

On her first expedition to Antarctica, J.J. was overjoyed by the sheer variety of forms, colors and types of ice, all of which she photographed extensively. On this first trip she was introduced to four species of penguin: Adélie, gentoo, macaroni and chinstrap, all of which inhabit the Antarctic Peninsula. The next year J.J. made a rare crossing of the Weddell Sea aboard the Russian icebreaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov, traveling down the South Sandwich Islands across the Weddell Sea to the Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf attached to Queen Maud Land and Coats Land. The expedition leadership was clear that such an itinerary was problematic and might not succeed, but if it did there would be numerous emperor penguin rookeries to be visited.

The expedition was genuinely historic. The weather was uncharacteristically perfect, and the ship traversed the hundreds of kilometers of the Riiser-Larsen all the way to Halley Station, making numerous zodiac and helicopter landings in what seemed to be endless sunshine and cloudless days. Emperor penguin rookeries provided amazing experiences and thousands of images. On the return trip, the captain initiated a course across the Weddell Sea similar to Ernest Shackleton’s voyage aboard the Endurance in the early 20th century. This crossing had not been made since Shackelton’s journey because ice always blocked the way. There was heavy sea ice in some areas, but the Russian vessel made a successful crossing of the Weddell Sea to the Antarctic Sound.

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