Nine years ago today Chuck and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on Robben Island off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. It was a testament to our love for penguins and for each other. Through Earthwatch Expeditions, we volunteered with biologists doing conservation work: counting penguins, weighing chicks and measuring their flippers, picking up trash on the beach. What an incredible experience! On that trip, we realized the South African penguin was the 10th penguin species we’d seen…while we were celebrating our 10th anniversary. Ten for ten! It was then, in 2011, that we decided to pursue our BIG dream: see all 18 penguin species in the wild! It was a 17 year journey to see them all, but we did it! Read about our amazing quest and enjoy more great penguin photos in Every Penguin in the World, just published. Robben Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nelson Mandela – one of the great heroes of the 20th century – was imprisoned on the island for 18 years. Mandela was charmed by the penguins and in his memoir Long Walk to Freedom wrote that he and the other prisoners “laughed at the colony of penguins” as they passed by like “a brigade of flat-footed soldiers.” While enduring a terrible situation, Mandela and the Robben Island prisoners found humor and consolation in the penguins. These delightful, beautiful creatures bring joy to us all and deserve our attention and care.
Penguin photo by Chuck Bergman