Ice Stories
Exploratorium Home

David AinleyDavid Ainley has been working with Adélie penguins at four different colonies on the Ross Sea of Antarctica for more than 25 years. He's a biologist for H. T. Harvey and Associates and is a leading expert on how these resilient birds respond to environmental change.

Project Page: Ross Sea Penguins

All Posts By David Ainley


A Tale of Two Cities

ROSS ISLAND, ANTARCTICA-- In this land (Antarctica) and an ocean far away (to most of you), but not long ago (in the past weeks or so), a scenario was played out that in days long past may once have happened, in fact, near by to where you are, but involving penguin cousins... {Read More »}



Penguins’ Best Friends Are Minke Whales

CAPE ROYDS, ANTARCTICA-- I’m sure Inuits have a name for it, but otherwise it’s the fizzing sound as great expanses of ice dissolve so rapidly that any air still between its spaces or molecules is released into the atmosphere. We heard that sound... {Read More »}



Creative Parenting by Penguins

CAPE ROYDS, ROSS ISLAND, ANTARCTICA-- The penguins at Cape Royds have been challenged in recent years by widely varying extremes of conditions, mostly having to do with how far they have to walk between colony and ocean. That’s a very big deal for them. With the arrival of the big icebergs... {Read More »}



Royds Tranquility

CAPE ROYDS, ROSS ISLAND, ANTARCTICA-- First time this has happened, but I was sitting today for a spell just to watch the penguins here at Cape Royds and the only sound was that of the blood going through my ears... {Read More »}



Beaufort Chaos

CAPE ROYDS, ROSS ISLAND, ANTARCTICA-- We’ve made three trips, by helicopter, to Beaufort Island this season. Usually we can’t do this until the end of the season, because the McMurdo helos don’t fly over open water and a ship is not available until the end. It’s a 40 minute helo ride and a 6 hour boat ride. This year, though, fast ice extends out to Beaufort... {Read More »}



So, You Want to Be a Penguin Researcher?

CAPE ROYDS, ROSS ISLAND, ANTARCTICA-- What is required? I’ve been asked many a time. Well, there is the usual sort of thing, like learning as much as possible in school about science and math, getting a good understanding about how the universe works, including the process of evolution... {Read More »}



Will the Banded Birds Please Stand Up!

CAPE ROYDS, ROSS ISLAND, ANTARCTICA– The major trust of our project is to quantify the vital rates of Adélie Penguins in their changing world, as global climate change proceeds. Vital rates means such things as age of first breeding, proportion of years in which they breed... {Read More »}



The Early Returns: We and the Penguins

CAPE ROYDS, ROSS ISLAND, ANTARCTICA-- This season, Jean came down to McMurdo Station a few weeks early with the idea of setting up a time-lapse camera at Cape Royds to record the complete cycle of colony formation as penguins returned from their wintering area... {Read More »}



Entrance of the Whales

Today we made a flight by helo along the fast ice edge and into the ice channel being made by the Oden, a Swedish icebreaker. Our purpose was to find out how many whales are… {Read More »}



No Sea Ice in Sight

CAPE ROYDS, ANTARCTICA-- Since coming back from Cape Bird it’s been very gray and windy here at Cape Royds. It has been blowing 20 knots at least, and often the wind has been much stronger.… {Read More »}