Stefan Christmann. Emperor Symphony.

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The family symphony.

Contrary to popular belief, emperor penguins don't mate for life but for a single breeding season, a phenomenon known as serial monogamy. While some pairs might extend their commitment beyond one season, diminishing sea ice stability in Antarctica has made it increasingly improbable for former mates to reunite in time for the next breeding season.

Yet, this form of serial monogamy among emperor penguins possesses its own enchantment. Their courtship rituals go beyond simple wooing; they are about forging a profound connection. Emperor couples dedicate significant time away from the bustling colony's core, where they learn to recognize each other's unique voices and movements. Together, they compose a harmonious family symphony of calls and a synchronized choreography, enabling them to locate one another amidst tens of thousands of other birds.

To our human senses, emperor penguin calls and movements may appear indistinguishable, but subtle nuances discernible only to penguins serve as their unique identifiers for reunion. When one partner returns from a journey to the open ocean, they call out to their mate while simultaneously performing a segment of their familial dance. Upon hearing an answering call from a distance, they draw nearer, repeating this ritual until they are joyfully reunited.

If this doesn't seem magical, I'm not sure what does!

With the poetry of his pictures and his emotional stories about the continent at the end of the world, Christmann wants to reveal the special beauty and vulnerability of the polar regions. His active educational work is intended to benefit not only the emperor penguins, but also their endangered Antarctic habitat.

Follow Stefan on Instagram @christmannphoto.

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