Home THE JOURNEY Cruise Viking Expedition Team Announces Discovery Of New Penguin Colony In Antarctica

Viking Expedition Team Announces Discovery Of New Penguin Colony In Antarctica

Pictured here, Astrolabe Island with Diaz Rock in the distance. Photo credit Hayley Charleton-Howard.

Viking® today announced its expedition team supported the discovery of a new colony of chinstrap penguins not previously known to science on Diaz Rock, near Astrolabe Island, in Antarctica. The finding took place in January 2024 when Viking’s expedition vessel, the Viking Octantis®, visited Astrolabe Island, a three-mile-long island, located in the Bransfield Strait of the Trinity Peninsula in Antarctica. Astrolabe Island is home to a colony of chinstrap penguins that had not been surveyed since 1987. During the visit, Viking’s scientific partner, Oceanites, the leading field research entity in Antarctic penguin monitoring, conducted a visual and thermal aerial survey. The fieldwork documented the first survey in nearly 40 years of the known chinstrap penguin colony of Astrolabe Island and in the process, discovered the additional colony on Diaz Rock. Oceanites will share additional details from the survey in a scientific paper to follow in due course.

Today’s announcement is an example of Viking’s commitment that every expedition voyage on the Viking Octantis and her identical sister ship, the Viking Polaris®, should provide opportunities for meaningful scientific discovery. The findings also come one year after Viking published its first scientific paper in Polar Research, the scientific journal of the Norwegian Polar Institute, following its expedition team’s encounters with rare giant phantom jellyfish in Antarctica.

“With our third season in Antarctica underway, we are pleased to have supported another significant scientific development that will allow for further understanding of the region,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “From the thoughtful design of our expedition vessels, each with a well-appointed Science Lab, to our partnerships with some of the world’s most prestigious institutions, our intention has always been to provide our guests and scientists with opportunities for meaningful discovery during each voyage. We look forward to supporting other critical research opportunities on future voyages.”

Pictured here, chinstrap penguins in Antarctica (not on Diaz Rock). Photo credit Dr. Grant Humphries. 

Viking Expedition Team & Scientific Partners

Viking has created the world’s leading scientific enrichment environment in an expedition setting with the help of partnerships with esteemed academic institutions. During each expedition, visiting researchers from partner institutions are part of the multidisciplinary 36-person expedition team. This group of experts leads guests through meaningful scientific research, providing guidance and interpretation during shore excursions and delivering world-class lectures.

For 30 years, Oceanites, an American not-for-profit field research entity, has led on Antarctic penguin monitoring. As a scientific partner, Viking supports the fieldwork of Oceanites by mobilizing teams of penguin researchers on its Antarctic expedition voyages and providing thermal cameras.

“The Antarctic peninsula is well-traveled and explored, and it is not often we find a new penguin colony,” said Dr. Grant Humphries, Director of Science at Oceanites. “Our partnership with Viking opened a new opportunity to not only count the chinstrap penguins on Astrolabe Island for the first time since the 1980s, but it also allowed us to locate and map a colony of chinstrap penguins previously unknown to us. This work will allow us to get a better understanding of how Antarctic penguin population dynamics are shifting in an ever-changing world.”

“Viking’s expedition vessels continue to showcase the potential of reimagined ‘ships of opportunity’ and the research capabilities available for scientific efforts,” said Dr. Damon Stanwell-Smith, Head of Science and Sustainability at Viking. “With scientists from our partner organizations on board, like Oceanites, we can conduct real, meaningful research in the regions. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Oceanites and other science partners to bring more findings forward in the future.”