Expeditioner Eddie Gault placed the camera near the Auster Rookery. This was during his visit to Australia’s Mawson research station. The Australian Antarctic Division posted a short clip of the camera-happy penguins. They posted it on their social media pages. They wrote that the footage offers a “bird’s eye view of life in Antarctica!” The footage has been viewed over 100,000 times across the group’s social media channels in the two days since it was shared.
At the start of the clip, we can only see the feet of a penguin. It appears to kick the camera over so its lens faces the sky. The penguin stares into the camera. Then another pops into frame. The buddies bend towards the lens. They cock their heads. Then they straighten up and shake their heads. It is as if they have decided that this strange object is not worth their time.
“Australian Antarctic expeditioner, Eddie Gault, left the camera on the ice when visiting [Auster Rookery near Australia’s Mawson research station],” the Australian Antarctic Division writes. “[I]t didn’t take long for the naturally curious birds to seize the opportunity for a selfie.”
Penguins are “naturally curious” animals. That’s what the Australian Antarctic Division writes on its Facebook page. This is at least the second time that the birds have been caught goofing around with a camera. It happened before in 2013. That’s when a Gentoo penguin snapped a selfie of its gaping beak. It happened while toying with a GoPro camera. It was from a Canadian cruise ship.
Other animals have also been known to dabble in the art of the selfie. An eagle in Western Australia once swooped up a camera. It was supposed to be recording fresh-water crocodiles. It filmed itself flying and pecking at the lens.
Then there is the case of a crested black macaque that inadvertently launched a years-long legal battle. It took a goofy photo of itself with a camera owned by David Slater. He is a British wildlife photographer. Slater published the image of the macaque in a book. This prompted People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to sue him for infringing on the copyright of the so-called “selfie monkey.” The parties settled out of court.
By Slater’s own admission, the macaque had pressed the shutter on his camera. This proved to be the crux of the lawsuit against him.
In the case of the Antarctic penguins, the camera was already rolling when they decided to strike a pose. So the Australian Antarctic Division should be able to avoid any legal woes. But if you happen to be in the Antarctic and see two penguins taking top-down Instagram shots, you know whom to blame.