A leap of faith: Penguin chicks fight for survival after trekking across Antarctic wastelands in remarkable scenes from Sir David Attenborough’s new BBC series Frozen Planet II
- Scenes of penguins leaping into the sea were captured on BBC’s Frozen Planet II
- Moment when adult birds left their young to their fate also filmed for the series
- Adult birds also filmed huddled together to shield their young against icy winds
- New series is a follow-up to Frozen Planet which was broadcast on BBC in 2011
Abandoned by their parents to make a treacherous 30-mile trek across the frozen Antarctic wastelands, these emperor penguin chicks finally pluck up the courage to leap into the sea to feast on its plentiful supply of fish.
The remarkable scene was captured on film for the BBC’s new Frozen Planet II, along with the poignant moments when the adult birds leave their young to their fate.
As the documentary shows the parents wandering off – having shielded the chicks from icy 100mph winds until they have grown to just over 3ft tall – narrator Sir David Attenborough, 96, tells viewers: ‘Their parental duties are complete, and they will never again return to their chicks.’
The emperor penguin chicks finally pluck up the courage to leap into the sea in the BBC’s new Frozen Planet II
In earlier scenes, a group of adult birds are shown huddling together to form a makeshift creche for the shivering chicks.
Sir David says: ‘Winds here can reach speeds of over 100mph and a chick is in real danger of freezing to death. But his parents are possibly the most devoted in all nature. They shield him from the full force of the icy blast and huddle together to create a tight creche. Within it the chicks remarkably can maintain their body temperature of 37C.’
The abandoned chicks risk starvation until one of their number decides to begin a trek to the sea in search of fresh fish. Cameras capture the moment fellow chicks fall into line and join the harrowing and occasionally humorous 30-mile trek.
Sir David says: ‘When one makes the first bold move, the rest follow. They set off at a steady pace – but sliding on your belly is an easy option.’ At one point the chicks use their beaks as ‘makeshift pickaxes’ so they can navigate towering walls of ice.
They are naturally suspicious of every crack in the edifice until the inevitable happens and they find themselves struggling for survival in a freezing chasm.
The documentary captured moments when the adult birds leave their young to their fate
The abandoned chicks risk starvation until one of their number decides to begin a trek to the sea in search of fresh fish
The new series is a follow-up to the successful Frozen Planet which was broadcast in 2011
Fortunately, the chicks manage to scramble to safety before finally making it to the sea. The sequences end with chicks jumping into the sea to feed.
Sir David says: ‘These chicks are the lucky ones. Not the most graceful entry. But they are in their element, the sea. They have endured the toughest of upbringings but now they can reap the benefits of the long summer ahead and feed in the richest waters on Earth.’
The new series is a follow-up to the successful Frozen Planet which was broadcast in 2011.
Tonight’s opening episode – scheduled to air on BBC1 at 8pm – also features comic footage of an unlucky-in-love male hooded seal who tries but fails to impress two females by displaying an expandable sac in his left nostril.