via Tobias Baumgaertner

Recently, photographer Tobias Baumgaertner took an amazing picture of two hugging penguins on the shores of Melbourne, Australia and it went so viral that it ultimately made him the winner of the Community Choice Award of the Oceanographic Magazine.

Fairy Penguins are the smallest species of their kind and live off the coasts of New Zealand and the Chatham Islands, as well as in southern Australia and Tasmania. So it is not a rare sight in this part of the world to watch hundreds of penguins swimming or even laying at the beaches of Melbourne.

Is common knowledge that most penguins are monogamous, which means they will choose a mating partner and stick together for almost their entire lives to care for and raise their baby chicks. But just as they can feel this kind of love, they can also experience grief.

This is the case for two penguins that had lost their mates, they probably died of old age or were taken by a predator.

The two widows, an older female (white to the right) and a younger male (black to the left) had been spotted several times attending together to a particular point of the St Kilda Pier in Melbourne, standing side by side on the rocks looking at the horizon and city lights in a sort of warm embrace that lasted for hours.

That was the cue for an experienced photographer to step in and try to capture such an endearing moment with a shot of his camera. He decided to spend three full nights with the colony of about 1,400 penguins studying their behavior and carefully following them around the rocks until he was able to combine all the elements necessary to immortalize these two beautiful creatures given each other support during their times of mourning.

After taking the snapshot, Baumgaertner posted the picture on Instagram and it quickly gained traction, becoming rapidly viral and reaching every corner of the world captivating and touching people’s hearts.

Just a few months later, the picture got nominated for the People Community Choice Award of the Oceanographic Magazine. People voted and as expected our two little friends got the support of the world and ended up handing this prize to Tobias Baumgaertner.

The photographer took the picture back in 2019 but decided to release it during 2020 when the whole world was in the midst of the shutdowns that took place and all the difficulties derived by the Covid-19 pandemic, as an attempt to reflect the importance of feeling accompanied by loved ones during harsh times.