Documentary Photographer Frantically Herding Penguins to Edge of Melting Ice Shelf So He Can Get a Heartbreaking Picture When the Shelf Collapses Into the Ocean

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Calling his vision “epic” and “totally gonna make people cry,” documentary photographer Cameron “Cam” Ruhmann was recently seen herding five penguins toward the Larsen C ice shelf in West Antarctica, which has been breaking off the continent at increasingly quick speeds. The rift between Larsen C and the rest of Antarctica has expanded 11 miles between May 25 and May 31, meaning Ruhmann has very little time to get photos of a few penguins on each side looking longingly at each other as they realize they will never see each other again.

Larsen C, about the size of Delaware, will accelerate sea level rise as it melts into the ocean. In addition, ice previously blocked by Larsen C will now disintegrate into the ocean at much quicker speeds. “Nobody cares about that, though,” Ruhmann laughed. “They’ll only care if they see a picture of a distraught penguin watching his mother float away.”

Ruhmann, about 4 miles away from the rift, began contemplating ways to make the penguins display the look of despair he needs for his tear-jerking photos. “My plan right now is to just keep telling them they don’t know how to fly and they’re not a real bird until they cry,” Ruhmann decided. He also considered photographing the penguins from the waist up to be sure their happy feet were not in the frame.

At press time, Ruhmann was seen setting up professional lighting on the edge of the ice shelf to ensure that the photos had an introspective blue tint to make people as sad as possible when they see the penguins. Ruhmann completely forgot that a hot light may not be the best idea for keeping the shelf intact as long as possible.

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