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The Evolution of a Quest

South Georgia Island has enormous breeding colonies king penguins. This one, on Salisbury Plain, can have as many as 200,000 breeding pairs. How do mates find each other in such enormous crowds? How does a baby know its parent? The answer is one of those wonderful facts we get from science. Each individual of the 200,000 breeding pairs of king penguins in this colony has its own unique sound when it calls. To us they sound alike in an undifferentiated wilderness of huzzahs. To the penguins, each call carries its own unique identity.

And Susan and I reached out—as we went farther—we could feel ourselves changing. The questions the penguin posed for us—who are we and how do we respond to the call of another creature?—grew in importance for us. These became our big question on our journey. They turned our quest into a pilgrimage, and us into pilgrims. Seekers of something special and sacred. Seekers of something bigger than us, but which would lift us up and make us bigger as a part of the whole. How do we answer for ourselves in a response that is also responsible and ethical to the creatures? A journey of adventure, a quest for knowledge and conservation, a pilgrimage for something sacred and transformative. These are the three parts of our attempt to see every penguin species in the world.

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