By Josh Saunders
A wildlife photographer has captured the beautiful moment penguins held hands during a romantic seaside waddle.
Alex Macipe, 49, watched the king penguins as they returned from a rough day at sea, off of Volunteer Point, the Falkland Islands, where they had been fishing to feed their young chick.
The monochrome birds, who mate for life, unusually went out hunting together – with one normally staying behind to take care of the offspring.
The conservationist and writer explained that he has never seen a pair holding flippers like this couple.
During their ‘date’ they appeared to be on a pleasant wander before taking a moment to pause, staring back into the crashing waves.
In other shots, they can be seen standing in the brisk winds trying to dry-off amid a flurry of sand particles.
Alex, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, said: “Before every trip I try to see the places I’m visiting, so that I can have in my mind what kind of pictures I will take.
“But this situation was amazing, especially when seeing the penguins coming out and going into the sea.
“Generally, if the father goes out the mother stays with the chick and vice versa, but this time both were hunting and later were holding hands.
“They are monogamous and only find a new mate if one of the couple dies or is eaten, otherwise they stay together their whole lives.
“These penguins were standing in the last light of the day and were trying to dry their bodies with the wind.
“You can see all the sand flying behind the penguins it was a rough day for them.
“I deliberately focussed on what the penguins were looking at in one shot because I wanted to show the rough sea.
“I haven’t seen this happen before, but it may happen often.”
King penguins are one of five penguin species to inhabit the Falklands Islands, including Gentoo, Macaroni, Magellanic and Rockhopper.
Volunteer Point hosts the Island’s largest population of king penguins, named scientifically as aptenodyptes paatagonicus, with more than 1,500 breeding pairs.
According to Falklands Conservation, between 500-700 king chicks are born in the islands each year and there are more than 1.7million breeding pairs worldwide.
Alex, who teaches a prestigious course at Studio Gurruchaga, said: “This happens in Antarctica too, where there are over a million king penguins.
“When a parent arrives and starts calling for their chick, they recognise them among half a million chicks.
“Then the chick puts its beak inside the parent’s beak so they can pass the food.”
Alex visited the Islands in November last year as part of a trip organised by Marcelo Gurruchaga, where he headed on a round-trip of the archipelago sampling much of wildlife on offer.
He plans to return to the Falkland Islands, known in Argentina as Islas Malvinas, to take even more photographs.
From the shots, he hopes will educate people about the archipelago and the thriving wildlife within the islands, including seals, sealions, whales, albatross and other rare bird species.
Alex said: “The wildlife is very well maintained and in general this place is very fantastic.
“I love nature and enjoy taking pictures of animals, so when you go to a place that is difficult to reach due to the weather conditions it’s a challenge to get good pictures.
“I hope to show people what the place looks like, it’s challenging but to interact with that specific place is incredible.
“At times you may only eat one sandwich during the whole day, because you don’t want to waste time.
“Behind each picture is a lot of work to reach the place and money that a photographer has to invest.
“They have to be clever to take advantage of the conditions and be able to enjoy and take advantage of every second.”
For more of his work visit: www.alexmacipephoto.com