'I can't believe that': Watch hundreds of baby emperor penguins jump off huge ice cliff

'I can't believe that': Watch hundreds of baby emperor penguins jump off huge ice cliff

Emperor Penguin Chicks' Brave Dive

Emperor Penguin Chicks' Brave Dive

Nothing gets in the way of a baby emperor penguin getting into the water, not even a huge ice cliff.

The courage some chicks have in the face of adversity is truly unmatched, serving them well as hundreds were documented taking a deep dive off an Antarctic cliff in January.

The “unprecedented” footage was captured by Bertie Gregory, an award-winning British cinematographer for National Geographic.

The penguin chicks captured in the clip below knowingly and maybe a bit hesitantly jumped, a sight that Gregory says is “pretty unbelievable.”

“I had no idea that the chicks would be able to make such a giant leap," he says. "And not just survive, but happily swim off together into the Southern Ocean … How’s that for your first swimming lesson?”

It's not unusual for emperor penguin chicks to march toward the ocean at a young age, even when they're just 6 months old. They jump just 2 feet off the ice to take their first swim, according to National Geographic.

Others have jumped from a much a higher altitude, heading to “sheer ice cliffs” knowingly to make the first jump. Satellites have recorded the death-defying jumps since 2009, but what happens next has remained a mystery until now. A colony of chicks are seen making their way along the edge of the huge ice cliff, moving together toward the edge, as Gregory wonders aloud: “What on Earth is going on here? … Where are these chicks going?”

They stop just short of the edge.

“That cliff has got to be 40-50 feet high,” Gregory says. "I’ve only ever seen emperors jumping off the sea ice. And that's a couple of feet maximum. Surely, they can’t be thinking of going off there."

The rest of the chicks take the successful dive as a sign to move forward, with a number of chicks launching themselves into the water every couple of seconds.

“So, we know these chicks have grown up together. And they stick together," Gregory says. "I think a lot are going to start to jump. Those first brave jumpers seem to give the rest the confidence to follow. Some of them are even trying to flap their wings."

National Geographic clip is just the start, documentary coming soon

The “never-before-filmed” behavior you just witnessed is part of a larger National Geographic docuseries set to premiere on Earth Day (April 22) in 2025. Stay tuned for more information on the award-winning SECRETS OF franchise, SECRETS OF THE PENGUINS.

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