An ice shelf is made up of permanent i.e. fast pack ice over water and frozen to the continent. The Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf extends along the coast of Queen Maud Land. We traveled in groups by helicopter to a staging area a few kilometers from the rookery. An easy walk on the snow overlaying the fast pack ice took one to the rookery.
Icescape dwarfs humans
The icescape here is incredible. Huge icebergs were driven into the ice shelf during fierce storms. They lock in place and slowly erode over time. The ice mountains ranged in size and shape each showing varied amounts of weathering. Some are quite tall, in excess of 50 meters. They dwarf the folks located on the ice plain at the center left of the picture.
A large number of Emperor fledgings were viewed at the rookery. They looked healthy and well fed. The rookery is preyed upon by Skuas. About a dozen Skuas constantly circled over the rookery. Occasionally one would swoop low over the fledgings looking for potential meals. While I didn't witness any attacks, there were a number of fledge remains scattered about the rookery attesting to the work of the Skuas.
Feed the Fledge
The adult penguins walk back and forth between the rookery and the ocean at the edge of the shelf. They dive off the edge of the shelf and look for fish. After getting their fill, they return to the rookery. Their fledging prompts the parent who then regurgitates the partially digested fish to the growing juvenile.
Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf Video
This video includes views from helicopter flying over the shelf, the staging area and walk, Adélie and Emporer penguins on the move, Emperor feeding fledge, Skuas swooping over the rookery. length: 2:03