Penguins are amazingly relatable creatures for human beings. Some have big egos, most have busy sex lives, and for the most part they are very sociable. They also have a dark side. For reasons unknown, from time to time a penguin will just wander off, away from the sea and his fellow penguins, to his death.
No one knows why it happens, although scientists have been working to form theories. When the penguins walk off they typically head to the middle of the icy desert, far away from the nourishing water and their feeding and breeding grounds. It’s not likely that they are disoriented; scientists have placed the penguins back within the pack only to see them head off alone again.
From what scientists can tell, the penguins are fully aware of what they are doing – heading to their certain doom.
Filmmaker Werner Herzog documented this phenomenon in his documentary Encounters at the End of the World. The film studies people and places in Antarctica, and he states the film is not a typical Antarctica film about “fluffy penguins”.
He’s right; a portion of his film, which is embedded below, captures this sad and strange happening on camera when a penguin marches in the wrong direction, walking to a certain death in the barren interior of the continent.