Each winter, alone in the pitiless ice deserts ofAntarctica, deep in the most inhospitable terrain on Earth, a trulyremarkable journey takes place as it has done for millennia. Emperorpenguins in their thousands abandon the deep blue security of theirocean home and clamber onto the frozen ice to begin their long journeyinto a region so bleak, so extreme, it supports no other wildlife atthis time of year. In single file, the penguins march blinded byblizzards, buffeted by gale force winds. Guided by instinct, by theotherworldly radiance of the Southern Cross, they head unerringly fortheir traditional breeding ground where--after a ritual courtship ofintricate dances and delicate maneuvering, accompanied by a cacophonyof ecstatic song--they will pair off into monogamous couples and mate.The females remain long enough only to lay a single egg. Once this isaccomplished, exhausted by weeks without nourishment, they begin theirreturn journey across the ice-field to the fish-filled seas. The maleemperors are left behind to guard and hatch the precious eggs, whichthey cradle at all times on top of their feet. After two long monthsduring which the males eat nothing, the eggs begin to hatch. Once theyhave emerged into their ghostly white new world, the chicks can notsurvive for long on their fathers' limited food reserves. If theirmothers are late returning from the ocean with food, the newly-hatchedyoung will die. Once the families are reunited, the roles reverse, themothers remaining with their new young while their mates head,exhausted and starved, for the sea, and food. While the adults fish,the chicks face the ever-present threat of attack by prowling giantpetrels. As the weather grows warmer and the ice floes finally begin tocrack and melt, the adults will repeat their arduous journey countlesstimes, marching many hundreds of miles over some of the mosttreacherous territory on Earth, until the chicks are ready to taketheir first faltering dive into the deep blue waters of the Antarctic.