A Drink of Life

Alexa Kownacki

© Alexa Kownacki, 2014. Originally published in Explorations: The UC Davis Undergraduate Research Journal, Vol. 16 (2014).

© Alexa Kownacki, 2014. Originally published in Explorations: The UC Davis Undergraduate Research Journal, Vol. 16 (2014).

Artist's Statement

I photographed this Gentoo penguin in December 2013 while on an eco-tourist trip to the Antarctic Peninsula.  As a Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology major, it was an inspiration to observe wildlife on all seven continents.  I originally photographed this Gentoo penguin hypothesizing that it was drinking water from a melted growler that was beached on this small island.  I later realized the penguin was searching for minute krill swimming in the cold, clear waters of the pond during low tide.  This penguin elegantly hunts incredibly small prey and yet continues to thrive in what seems like a vast, barren landscape in Antarctica.  The water flowing off its beak is a subtle acknowledgment that everything on this planet is connected by water:  from the ocean currents, which impact the climates, to the smallest living creatures of the sea, to these near-threatened iconic birds.  Water is the basis for life; this small connection between life forms is a reminder that even slight changes in the environment have the potential not only to affect organisms, but to reshape this planet we call “home.”