Heartbreaking image of widowed penguins comforting each other ‘flipper in flipper’

Hand us a tissue (Picture: PA)

A photographer has captured a poignant moment between two penguins who meet at night to comfort each other over the loss of their partners.

The two ‘widowed’ fairy penguins were pictured standing ‘flipper in flipper’ gazing out over the twinkling Melbourne skyline in an image that has broken hearts across the world.

According to photographer Tobias Baumgaertner, the white penguin is female and had lost her partner, while the male on the left is also widowed. He said the pair meet up often and stand comforting one another ‘for hours’.

Mr Baumgaertner has now won the Ocean Photography Awards’ community choice prize for the image, which was taken in St Kilda.

The picture of the two tiny friends was shared thousands of times after Mr Baumgaertner posted it on Instagram in March, claiming that the birds had both been widowed.

‘These two fairy penguins poised upon a rock overlooking the Melbourne skyline were standing there for hours, flipper in flipper,’ the photographer wrote.

‘A volunteer approached me and told me that the white one was an elderly lady who had lost her partner, and apparently so did the younger male to the left.

‘Since then they meet regularly, comforting each other and standing together for hours, watching the dancing lights of the nearby city.’

The overall winner of the competition, organised by Oceanographic Magazine, was Nadia Aly, who photographed mobula rays off the Baja California Sur in Mexico.

The six winners won prizes across seven awards, whittled down from more than 3,000 initial competition submissions.

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