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Antarctic Food Chain

Nature, first prize stories


An adult king penguin runs a gauntlet of chicks. The penguins feed their young on krill and fish. South Georgia is rich in wildlife due to the high density of krill in the surrounding seas. These small, protein-rich crustaceans are a vital part of the Antarctic food chain, but their own food source—phytoplankton growing on the underside of sea ice—is disappearing as ice cover shrinks.

Commissioned by: National Geographic


Photo Credit: Paul Nicklen

As a young boy, Paul Nicklen, a Canadian-born polar specialist and marine biologist, moved to Baffin Island and spent his childhood among the Inuit people. From them he learned the love of nature, the understanding of icy ecosystems, and the survival skills that have helped him to become one of the most successful wildlife and nature photojournalists.

As an assignment photographer for National Geographic magazine, Nicklen has produced 16 stories covering a variety of issues related to conservation and natural history—from the slaughter of narwhals to salmon farming to the importance of sea ice and polar ecosystems in this new climate era. Despite the personal peril he often faces while working in some of the planet’s most remote and harsh environments, Nicklen travels constantly in search of meaningful stories that can help touch people’s emotions and help the public connect with Earth’s marine and polar realms.

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