Poignant image of two widowed penguins comforting each other wins photography prize

Laura Hampson
·2 min read
The Fairy penguin (aka Little penguin) is the smallest species of penguin (Getty)
The fairy penguin (aka little penguin) is the smallest species of penguin. (Getty)

A picture of two widowed penguins comforting each other has won a photography prize after going viral in the first coronavirus lockdown.

The image won the Community Choice Award at Oceanographic magazine's Ocean Photography Awards 2020.

Taken by photographer Tobias Baumgaertner, the image – which sees the two fairy penguins overlooking the twinkling Melbourne skyline – was shared widely during the first lockdown and amassed an impressive 53,000 likes on Instagram.

At the time, Baumgaertner captioned the image: “During times like this the truly lucky ones are those that can be with the person/people they love most.

“I captured this moment about a year ago. These two fairy penguins poised upon a rock overlooking the Melbourne skyline were standing there for hours, flipper in flipper, watching the sparkling lights of the skyline and ocean.

“A volunteer approached me and told me that the white one was an elderly lady who had lost her partner and apparently so did the younger male to the left.”

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Baumgaertner learned that the two penguins meet regularly and stand together “for hours” watching the lights of the Australian city.

He continued: “I spent three full nights with this penguin colony until I was able to get this picture.

“Between not being able or allowed to use any lights and the tiny penguins continuously moving, rubbing their flippers on each other’s backs and cleaning one another, it was really hard to get a shot but I got lucky during one beautiful moment. I hope you enjoy this moment as much as I did.”

He re-shared the image along with a video of the penguins when he was shortlisted for the award in November and it was announced as the winner later that month.

Instagram users were quick to praise the image, with one saying: “This makes me smile every time I see it. Such a wonderful picture.”

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Another added: “Amazing! This has been my favourite pic of the entire year.”

While it may feel a bit doom and gloom out there, these penguins are a welcome injection of joy.

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