Cheeky penguin snapped by Kiwis wandering around Scott Base, Antarctica

A curious Adélie penguin appears to have been intrigued by New Zealand's base in Antarctica, captured on camera sneaking up to the buildings and claiming their home as its own.

While penguins often wander up to investigate scientists and people working out on the ice, it's rare for them to come all the way to Scott Base.

New Zealander Dan Poulton, who snapped the photos while working at the base, told Newshub the cheeky bird first ventured up almost a week ago.

"It started following us around and headed up to the base sign as well... He's been making a little home for himself," he said.

"It's the first penguin this season that's been on the land."

He even forced work to come to a halt one day.

An Adelie penguin pictured beneath the Scott Base sign in Antarctica.
The cheeky penguin has made himself at home at Scott Base. Photo credit: Dan Poulton / Supplied

"The guys were relaying some fuel pipes at the moment and it jumped in the ditch, so they had to quit work for a while - you're not allowed to disturb them or go within 10 metres," Mr Poulton said.

"It snowed the other night and there were tracks. He's definitely been doing the rounds at night, making sure we're all safe."

While some of the penguins have been given "stupid little names" in the past, Mr Poulton admitted no one's given this one a name yet.

"I don't know why this one hasn't... It's pretty much just 'is that little Adélie still out there'."

An Adelie penguin at Scott Base, Antarctica.
The penguin often does laps of the base overnight. Photo credit: Dan Poulton / Supplied

Antarctica's Adélie and emperor penguins live out on the sea ice, diving off the edge to fish for their dinner.

The sea ice breaks up every summer and refreezes again every winter. At this time of year, it's already broken up fairly close to Scott Base.

Despite growing over the last decade, the sea ice extent has plummeted in recent years to record low levels, leaving scientists concerned about the future survival of the creatures who rely on it.

This year so far has the third-lowest extent of sea ice on record, after 2017 and 2018 - bringing the wildlife closer to the Kiwis.

A graph showing the decrease in Antarctic sea ice. It rapidly drops from 2014 onwards.
Antarctica's sea ice has plummeted in recent years. Photo credit: Newshub. / File

"The sea ice is probably the closest it's been [to Scott Base] in the last three years, you can see killer whales from the lounge at Scott Base at the moment," Mr Poulton said.

Unfortunately for the little penguin, the Kiwis weren't keen to invite him inside their home - so he remains an outdoor guard penguin for the moment.


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